The daylily is a
perennial plant whose roots are fibrous, grow in
clumps and can be split apart. The botanical name is
Hemerocallis (hem-ur-oh-KAL-is) and means "beauty for a
day". The flowers of most plants open in the morning, then
fade and die in early evening. Since a mature daylily plant
produces many buds, this is not a disadvantage and masses of flowers
cover the clump every day for several weeks.
The foliage of the daylily
grows in fan like shapes and will persist all summer, even after the
flowers are gone. The leaves are grass-like and may be narrow or
up to an inch wide and the height varies from plant to plant.
are as many as 26 species of the genus Hemerocallis,
depending upon which botanist you read. The height of the scapes
stalk) ranges from 1 foot to 7 feet. The colors are yellows,
brown, and reds. There are naturally occurring double flowers
trumpets. Some of the species are very fragrant. Some of
the plants are
evergreen (year round foliage) and some are dormant. From these
the hybridizers have developed more than 50,000 registered blooms.
The original plants came
from the Orient; China, Siberia, Korea,
and Japan. The plants arrived in Europe in the sixteenth century
to the New World with the settlers. They are first mentioned in
folk songs that date back to the time of Confucius (551 - 479 BC) and
written about in medical books and cookbooks.
Hybridization did not begin
until the 1890s and continued slowly until the 1950s, when the popularity of the plant soared and interest in
new plants increased exponentially, as did the number of new
The plants are very hardy and
forgiving. They will survive and thrive in soils that other plants find useless. They will spring
back from storms and snow and cold and drought. They have been called the
"perfect perennial" because they can fit well into the sculptured garden or
can be used for erosion control. Although they prefer full sun, some of the
older varieties will tolerate moderate shade.
For more detailed information,
please visit the Web Site of the American Hemerocallis Society at www.daylilies.org, or read one of several
excellent books on the subject, which are listed at the AHS Site. We
personally prefer the book by Lewis & Nancy Hill, "Daylilies, The