Why is the daylily (Hemerocallis hybrids) the most popular perennial in the West? For one thing, it grows in virtually all of our climates. In the moist Pacific Northwest, daylilies develop such luxurious foliage that it's wise to select tall-stemmed varieties if you want to see the flowers. In Northern California, nature supplies daylilies with the perfect balance of rainfall and sun. And daylilies bloom like the dickens in coastal Southern California, even outflowering roses. In California's Central Valley and other hot inland locations, the foliage may grow shorter, but the flowers come just as abundantly. Gardeners in colder intermountain areas can grow deciduous varieties hardy enough to stand temperatures as low as -35°. Even in Southwest deserts, where daylilies face more of a challenge, they do surprisingly well when given afternoon shade and plenty of water.
Another reason daylilies are popular is that they're so easy to grow. There are no disease or insect pests worth mentioning. Gophers leave them alone and deer usually do too. Even being trampled by kids or dogs or run over by a lawnmower doesn't faze them for long.
Variety is another plus. Though there is an abundance of yellow- and orange-flowered daylilies, there are also plenty of romantic pinks and lavenders, dramatic reds and purples, and exotic browns. The foliage can be as fine as grass or as coarse as corn.
Planting and care
In most Western climates, bare-root and container-grown plants can go in the ground anytime from spring through midautumn. In the desert, wait to plant until the soil cools down in fall.
In most areas, give daylilies the sunniest spot in your garden. In the desert, protect from afternoon sun by planting them in a spot where they'll get filtered shade or an eastern exposure. For best performance amend the soil with organic matter such as compost before planting. Daylilies will survive considerable drought, but for generous bloom they need ample water during their growing period.
Sources for daylilies
Buy daylilies at well-stocked nurseries or from these growers.
Amador Flower Farm. Plymouth, CA; (209) 245-6660 or www.amadorflowerfarm.com. Catalog $3.50.
Caprice Farm Nursery. Aumsville, OR; (503) 749-1397 or www.capricenursery.com. Catalog free.
Cordon Bleu Daylilies. San Marcos, CA; (760) 744-8367 or www.buenacreekgardens.com. Catalog $2.
Greenwood Daylily & Iris Garden. Somis, CA; (562) 494-8944 or www.greenwoodgarden.com. Catalog free.
Shepard Iris Garden. Phoenix; (602) 841-1231. Catalog $1.
Snow Creek Daylilies. Port Townsend, WA; (360) 765-4342 or www.snowdaylily.com. Catalog $3.