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 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 coming 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 amass 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
Regular deadheading encourages all plants to produce more flowers. And it also extends 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 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.
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 will slowly develop alongside emerging blooms. As they ripen, they develop three distinct lobes, eventually growing to around 1 to 2 inches.
All told, it takes about 50 days after the flowers have faded 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 reveal a bunch of black seeds. This explains why you’ll often find daylilies growing in odd places, even if you never planted them.
Below is an immature seed pod I picked recently exhibiting just a few 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.
DAYLILIES LIKE EXTRA FOOD AND WATER
A spring and fall feeding can also have a positive impact on blooming while strengthening plants for the winter. And while most daylilies can survive without much water, the more water you give them, the better the blooms. One has only to look at the moisture-packed flower itself as proof.