Daylily Care: How To Extend The Blooming Season

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 blooming season.

DONE IN A DAY

One of the most versatile and hardiest of perennials, daylilies (Hemerocallis) are a highlight of the summer garden. Although individual flowers come and go daily, plants can keep on producing new ones for up to four to five weeks. Traditionally, daylilies bloom from late June through July. But there are now many re-blooming varieties that make a second appearance in late summer, dramatically extending the growing season.

In fact, nowadays there are thousands of daylily varieties available in every conceivable size, shape and color. And most are proliferous. A single stem can produce many flowers. And an established clump can produce hundreds of blooms over the course of one summer month.

Still, easy-to-grow doesn’t necessarily mean maintenance-free. Left unattended, daylilies can quickly accumulate large numbers of spent, soggy blooms. Not only are these dead flowers an eyesore, but they can have a direct impact on blooming. Here’s why.

HOW DEADHEADING EXTENDS THE BLOOMING SEASON

It’s common knowledge that regular 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 important reasons for why I do this:

1. It makes the plant look better. 

2. If I remove the dead flowers (in particular, the ovary/seed pods), it will send energy to the plant to produce more stalks with more flowers.

Spent daylily blooms

BEWARE OF THE DAYLILY SEED POD

Daylily flowers form near the tip of the stalk during their active growing season. But as each flower withers and drops, it leaves an ovary to develop into a seed pod. Immature seed pods look a lot like emerging blossoms. Located at the base of the flower, they are oval in shape and pale green in color.

Notice below (center) where I snapped off a flower, leaving the ovary exposed. This will develop into a seed pod.

Left alone, seed pods slowly develop alongside emerging blooms. As they ripen, they develop three distinct lobes that eventually grow to around 1 to 2 inches. 

All told, it takes about 50 days for the seed pods to finally harden and dry out. Then, at the end of the season, the pods split open at the seams to release a bunch of black seeds. This explains why you’ll often find daylilies growing in odd places, far from where you may have planted them.

Below is an immature seed pod I picked recently exhibiting just a few seeds.

A daylily seedpod and seeds

WHY REMOVING SEEDS EXTENDS THE BLOOMING SEASON

Of course, if you are planning to grow more daylilies, seed pods are a good thing. I suggest leaving a few on the plant. But if you’re interested in extending the blooming season, it’s important to remove them. Why? Because, if the plant is spending its energy forming seeds, there is little left to produce flowers. Removing seed pods not only conserves energy, but it also redirects the plant to produce more flowers.

So, when snapping off the spent daylily, make sure to remove the entire flower at its base, including the developing seed pod. Then, 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

DAYLILIES LIKE EXTRA FOOD AND WATER

And don’t forget to feed your daylilies! A spring and fall feeding can also have a positive impact on blooming while strengthening plants for the winter. And while 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.

Are your daylilies getting large and out-of-hand? Here are some tips on how to divide them.

For photos of my garden designs, including plant lists, check out my Instagram at carole.herebydesign. I post seasonally from spring through fall.

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