What is Hemerocallis?

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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Hemerocallis, which means "beautiful for a day" in Greek, refers to the genus of daylily perennials with a few inner petals and three outer sepals. Hemerocallis adapts well in most soil and weather conditions, producing foliage several feet tall and flowers that vary in shape and bloom in colors such as white, yellow, red, orange, pink, and purple. Planting for the European and Asian native can start in the spring in time for summer blooming. Thousands of daylily plant species with interesting names exist.

The hemerocallis adjusts to most types of environments like hot weather and dry soil. To guarantee an abundance of healthy plants, however, the perennials should be planted where they can get at least six hours of direct sunlight, without competition from neighboring shrubs and trees. While the plants can withstand dry, compacted, and other soil types, they grow best in moist, well-drained soils that are partially acidic and fertilized with organic compost. The plant gets its name because it lasts for many years but its blooms last only one day at a time.


Daylilies on average grow up to three feet tall (or approximately 0.9 m) when planted in zones that range from cold temperatures and frost to hot summer weather. Hemerocallis plants are usually divided into clumps of two to three stems and leaves, roots included. The plants should be placed at least one inch (approximately 2.54 cm) below the ground, with each plant spaced out in a garden at 18 inches (about 0.4 m) apart to make room for adequate growth in a garden, flowerbed or border. Experts recommend applying about one inch (approximately 0.02 m) of water every week as needed.

With proper planting and cultivation, daylily colors bloom starting in late spring and continuing until the beginning of the frost season. The fragrant hemerocallis flowers develop into a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, white, red, pink, and purple. No uniformity exists among these flowering plants, as they come in rounded as well as wide and ruffled shapes. Each flower on the hemerocallis blooms and lasts for only one day; however, it is not uncommon for clumps of up to 400 flowers to appear on each plant per season. Depending on the amount of cultivars planted in one area, this gives the opportunity for the hemerocallis to maintain its floral display all season.

Several daylily plant species are available under some unique names, with flower widths ranging from three to five inches wide (about 7.6 cm to 12.7 cm). For example, "Black-Eyed Stella" daylilies emerge with golden-yellow petals and a burgandy center. "Happy Returns" flowers resemble lemon-yellow and open only during nighttime. The "Prairie Blue Eyes" variety of plants appear with lavender flowers, while the "Catherine Woodbury" blooms light pink. Another cultivar, "Pardon Me," produces bright red flowers.


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