What to look for when buying Daylilies

First, think about where you want to put your new daylilies. (Of course once you see the displays your plans might change—usually expanding.) How much space is available if you plant them 2 feet apart? What other features are nearby?


This is the feature that probably catches our eye first. WIll this be a mass of lilies at a distance? Then a strong bright color works best. If the plant will be in the forefront of a garden or next to a path and so seen up close more subtle colors and patterns can be appreciated. Think about how the color will go with other plantings and structures where it will be planted. But it's not uncommon for someone to come into the garden looking for some thing small and pale to go in front of the garage and leave with that big exhuberent flaming orange one and the need to dig a whole new garden for it. Sometimes you just gotta follow your heart.


Modern hybids are increasing the choice of color patterns. So you can choose solid colors (self colored) or blossoms with different colored eyes, halos, edges, sepals, watermarks, stitching, midribs, chevrons, etc. See what grabs you. And again think about how far the viewer will be from the flower. That delicate watermark on pink won't show across a field but might be awsome next to your patio.


This means the height of the blooming scapes. That can be from 12" to 60". Wher are you goiong to put these? Will they be in the back or front of a guarden? Do you need them to hide something? Do you like the look of flowers on long scapes or a more compact plant? A miniature might fit your spot better.

Flower Size

Flowers can be mini (less than 4") or giant, 8 inches or more. Usually the mini flowers are also on shorter scapes but you will sometimes find fairly large flowers also on short scapes.

Flower form

The shape of a flower is also part of it's particular appeal. They can be rounded, flat, star shaped, recurved, spidery, double, ruffled, smooth, tulip shaped, or with rounded petals and sepals or pointed petals and sepals.


Some cultivars have slender leaves in their fans, some have husky wide leaves. You won't usually find much information about this in a catalog but if you're looking at the plant take note of it's shape. How will it look before and after bloom?


How much do you need? If your adding some variety to your garden a fan might just be fine. It will eventually expand to a lovely big clump. If you're putting in a row of a single cultivar, like Stella D'Oro, you don't want to wait years to see the result so buy clumps if you can. Figure on 18-24 inches apart depending on how quickly you want them to fill in.


You can't reproduce them with seeds so you have to pay for the divisions. In theory we should enter a daylily garden or catalog with a budget in mind. But for me it's always like grocery shopping when you're hungry. I figure we all have a personal calculation of price, longevity, and love that we juggle in our heads. Older varieties are usually cheaper. This years introductions with edge colors and intense ruffling and eyes can cost $100 or more. Those prices will come down as the varieties become more common. Roadside Ditchlilies are free (but don't plant them with hybrids! They're bullies!) If you can't bring yourself to cough up $20 for that glorious variety that cought your eye there might be something similar with less ruffling or something. Trading with friends is fun, but be aware, if you llike to know the registered names of your flowers, that many gardeners can get those garbled over the years. If you know you want a lot of something buying a quantity can sometimes save you money. Ask about quantity discounts.

Gotta have it!

After all is said and done, impulse buying is part of the fun. You'll find a place for it, even if it doesn't fit your plans.