Daylilies are called daylilies for a reason. Each flower lasts for just one day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy more blooms, more often. All it takes is a little gardening know-how, and you can trick your plant into extending its flowering season.
DONE IN A DAY
Vigorous and adaptable, daylilies (Hemerocallis) are a highlight of the summer garden. Though individual flowers come and go daily, plants keep producing new ones for up to four to five weeks. Typically, daylilies flower from late June through July. But now there are many re-blooming varieties that make a second appearance in late summer, dramatically extending the growing season.
In fact, these days there are thousands of daylily varieties available in every conceivable size, shape and color. And most are prolific bloomers. A single stem can produce multiple flowers. And an established plant can produce hundreds of blooms over the course of one summer month.
Still, easy-to-grow doesn’t necessarily mean maintenance-free. Left alone, daylilies can quickly accumulate large numbers of spent, soggy blooms. Not only are these dead flowers an eyesore, but they have a direct impact on blooming. Here’s why.
HOW DEADHEADING EXTENDS THE BLOOMING SEASON
It’s common knowledge that deadheading encourages plants to produce more flowers. But did you know that it can also extend their blooming season? To keep my daylilies blooming longer, I remove the spent flowers every morning by snapping them off at the base. There are two reasons why I do this:
One. It makes the plant look better.
Two. When I remove the dead flowers (in particular, the seed pods), it frees up energy for the plant to produce more blooms.
Spent daylily blooms
Beware of the daylily seed pod! If you don’t remove it, your plant will flower less. That’s because once pods develop, plants get the message to start producing seeds. And once they start producing seeds, there is less energy to produce flowers.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A SEED POD
Daylily flowers form near the tip of the stalk. But as each flower withers and drops, it leaves behind an ovary to develop into a seed pod. Immature seed pods look a lot like emerging blossoms – they’re oval in shape and pale green in color.
Notice below (center) where I snapped off a flower, leaving the ovary exposed. This will become a seed pod.
Seed pods grow and mature alongside emerging blossoms. As they ripen, they develop three distinct lobes.
Eventually, the seed pods harden and shrink in size – (if you shake them, you can hear the seeds rattle). Finally, the lobes split open at the seams, often flinging a bunch of black seeds into the distance. This explains why you’ll sometimes find daylilies growing far from where you originally planted them.
Below is a seed pod I harvested recently exhibiting a few seeds. This is what you need to remove if you want your daylily to bloom longer.
A daylily seedpod and seeds
WHY REMOVING SEED PODS PROLONGS FLOWERING
Of course, if you are planning to grow more daylilies, seed pods are a good thing. It makes sense to leave some on the plant. But if you’re interested in extending the flowering season, it’s important to remove them. Remember, if the plant is spending its energy forming seeds, there is little left to produce blooms.
So, when snapping off the spent daylily, make sure to remove the entire flower at its base, including the developing seed pod. Once the stalk is done flowering, cut it to the ground. It won’t be producing any more blooms this year.
Cut spent stalks to the ground – they’re done for the season
DAYLILY BLOOMS NEED FOOD AND WATER
To perform at their best, daylilies need food and water. Feeding your plants in both spring and fall will not only increase flower bud production, but also strengthen the roots for the winter. And, though most daylilies are relatively drought tolerant, the more water you give them, the better the blooms. One has only to look at the moisture-packed flower itself as proof.
Looking for more? To see my most recent garden designs, including plant lists, check out my Instagram. I post seasonally from spring through fall.