How To Plant Daylilies In Garden Beds & Pots

Because they are so easy to grow and come in such a wide range of flower colors, Daylilies are among the most popular perennial plants in North America. 

In landscape design, Daylilies are perfect for use to create stunning mass plantings or borders along walkways, paths and landscape beds, and their grassy texture and many blooms add both textural and color interest to mixed container gardens.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know regarding planting daylilies...

Cultural Preferences

Daylilies grow in a wide range of soils and soil conditions, except for constantly soggy or wet soils. They prefer and perform best in a moist but well-drained soil of average fertility. When growing in containers use a good potting soil or potting mix, or combination of thereof.

Testing Soil Drainage
If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your Daylilies, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting. To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions and possibly a need to add organic matter to help retain moisture. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and is a caution you need to improve drainage, plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.

Soil pH
Daylilies aren't picky about soil pH. They grow well in an acidic or alkaline soil ranging from 6.0 to 8.0 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.   

Testing Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, and whether or not it's suitable for growing Daylilies, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe or pH testing kit. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.

Light Needs
Daylilies will take all the sun you can give them but will also handle some shade or filtered sun. For best performance and bloom, we suggest 6 hours or more of direct sunlight per day.

Daylily Planting Tips

(Scroll down to see planting instructions when planting individually in the ground or in pots)

Site Preparation For Mass Planting
If you intend on planting and large grouping of daylilies, though not necessary here's some tips you might want to consider regarding site preparation...

Weed Elimination
When mass planting daylilies you'll first want to eliminate existing weeds or grasses in the planting area. You can pull weeds by hand or spray them with a solution of glyphosate-based weed killer designed for use in non-lawn areas, such as Killzall or Roundup. DO NOT use a lawn weed killer as these chemicals are harmful to the roots of perennial and ornamental plants! After spraying the glyphosate-based weed killer, or using an alternative method to kill the weeds or grass in the planting area, wait at least two hours or until spray has dried on weeds before you begin planting your daylilies. Before using any chemical read and carefully follow mixing and application instructions on the product label. 

Soil Preparation
Tilling the soil in the planting area is optional. There are several reasons some folks don't want to do it. Tilling on sloped ground loosens soil making it more susceptible to erosion in the event there comes heavy rainfall. Tilling can also bring buried dormant weeds seeds to the surface, and freshly tilled ground is a perfect environment for weed seeds to sprout in. If you are planting under or near established trees, be aware that tilling can cause serious damage to tree roots, which can effect the health of a tree. The feeder roots of established or mature trees can often extend well beyond the perimeter of the canopy. If you do decide to till, we recommend the application of a landscape weed preventer, such as Hi-Yield Weed & Grass Stopper, to the soil surface, which kills weeds seeds before they germinate. make sure to use a weed preventer listed for use around daylilies and always following application rates and other instructions on the product label.

How Many Plants?
If you are planting your Daylilies in mass over a large area, to determine how many plants you will need to fill the planting area it is often necessary to determine total square feet of the planting area. Once you have the square footage, then you can determine how far apart you will space plants in the planting area. (Under the description tab on every plant page in Wilson Bros Gardens you will find spacing suggestions.) Click on the links below to get helpful tips for measuring square feet.

Step-By-Step Daylily Planting Instructions

Step 1
Set and space all plants out in the planting area before starting to plant. Alternatively, you can use marking paint to mark the spot where each plant will go, which is often necessary when planting on steep slopes, where plants in containers will not stay put. 

If there will be more than one row of plants, begin by setting out or marking one straight row of plants. It's best to start along the edge of the planting bed making sure to space plants at a distance far enough from the edge of the planting bed to allow for future spreading. For example, plants with a recommended spacing of 24" apart should be spaced at least 12" from the edge of the bed (or surfaced area) to the center of the plant. After setting out the first row, stagger the plants on the second row and so on until the space is filled.

Step 2
Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area, it may be beneficial to amend the native soil. When planting in heavy clay or poor soils mix in organic matter such as composted manure or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in a sandy, quick-draining soil amending with top soil, organic compost, or peat moss will help to retain moisture and supply vital plant nutrients. When planting in a fertile, loamy, well-drained moist soil there is no need to amend soil.

Step 3
To remove your Daylily plant from the container it was growing in first squeeze the sides of the container to loosen the root ball. Then very gently try to remove the root ball from the container. If the root ball is stuck in the container it is best to use a cutting tool to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, use your fingers to gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. 

Step 4
Set your Daylily in the planting hole so that the top edge of the root ball is at or slightly above ground level to allow for settling. It might be necessary to place some of your backfill soil mixture in the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.
Step 5
After setting your plant in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight while using your other hand to begin backfilling the soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue backfilling to the top edge of the root ball. To avoid suffocating your plant, avoid placing any soil on top of the root ball.

Step 6
After planting some or all all of your Daylily plants, deeply water the entire planting area. For an extra boost, you can also water with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development, promoting greener, more vigorous plants.

Step 7
Apply a 1" layer of aged, shredded wood mulch or bark or a 1-2" layer of pine straw around your newly planted Daylilies. Avoid the use of freshly chipped or shredded wood mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. 

Planting Daylilies In A Pot

Daylilies are great for adding a grassy texture and bright flower color to mixed container garden plantings.

When growing in pots Daylilies appreciate a moist but well-drained soil. As with so many other plants, constantly soggy soil can and often will cause root rot or other harmful or deadly plant diseases. Therefore, plant Daylilies in a container or pot that has a drainage hole(s) and use a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof for planting. 

Make sure to choose a container with drainage holes at the bottom and one that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be at least 4 inches or more in width than the root ball of your plant. if you plant to add other types of plants to your container garden up the size of the pot.

Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the flower and foliage color of your Daylily, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment. 

Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.

Step 1
Before filling your container with the soil mix we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil. As mentioned, plant Daylilies in pots using a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof. 

Step 2
To remove your Daylily plant from the container it was growing in first squeeze the sides of the container to loosen the root ball. Then very gently try to remove the root ball from the container. If the root ball is stuck in the container it is best to use a cutting tool to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, use your fingers to gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball.  

Step 3
Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set your Daylily plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2 to 1" below the top rim of the container.
Step 4
Backfill with your potting soil around root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.

Step 5
Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.

Step 6 (Optional)
Apply a 1/2" layer of wood chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface to help conserve moisture.

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