Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are the best summer flowers. They bloom in July and August when other bloom is scarce. They come in a variety of colors and flower forms. They are not fussy about soil, are drought tolerant once established, give in to few pests, and will bloom for many years with minimal care.

Selection: There are over 50,000 varieties registered with the American Hemerocallis Society; Phoenix Flower Farm grows about 800. Despite these odds, we dare to say that our selection is among the best in Central New York, because: We grow some of all the major flower types (doubles, variants, spiders, eyed, edged, etc.); most of our varieties are award winners; all of our varieties have been grown here for at least two years, so we know they can take tough Central New York winters. We may not have the precise variety you saw in a catalog, but we probably can recommend one that equals or surpasses it.

Value: We sell daylilies in 1-gallon pots, at our standard gallon price, April through October. Obviously, we don’t have all 800 varieties potted at once. However, daylilies can be planted bare root during the same period of time, so we can dig #1 divisions, mini-clumps or clumps to your order. These will be priced by variety, according to current market value. We can also ship daylilies, but will do that only in May and September. The soil where we grow our daylilies is sandy, which encourages heavy root growth. Our customers regularly tell us that Flower Farm daylilies grow fantastically well.

Added value comes from our selection of varieties and knowledge of how they behave. Daylilies are primarily garden plants, not cut flowers. It is important to select varieties that display a high bud count (leading to long bloom period), good foliage quality, well-branched stalks, and plant vigor for rapid multiplication. A pretty face is nice, but not enough!

More About Daylilies: Daylilies are not really lilies, but are all descended from a few species of the Asian Hemerocallis (Beauty for a Day). Species lilioasphodelus (flava) is widely grown and known as Lemon Lily. It blooms in early June here and is highly fragrant. Road Lily, which was considered the only daylily there was in Central New York up to about 20 years ago, is species fulva. It is fantastically invasive because while it is only rarely fertile, it has adapted to spread by stolons. Most cultivated daylilies are not invasive, but multiply politely at the crown, as do most garden perennials. We grow a few other species, but most of our plants are hybrids developed in the West over the past 100 years, but chiefly in the last 50 years in the U.S., where daylily fever has sometimes reached bizarre heights. There are nearly 10,000 American Hemerocallis Society members, often organized into clubs (at least six in New York State).

Daylily hybrids are classified primarily by flower size, form and patterns. Garden judges vote annual awards for miniatures (flower diameter under 3”), small flower (3” but less than 4.5”), or large flower (4.5” or more). The standard modern form is fully round, usually recurved, with three broad petals overlapping and alternating with three less-broad sepals—laymen would say that the single daylily is six-petaled.

Awards are also given for doubles (multipetaled), and several unusual forms, the most distinctive of which is spider. The classic spider form has 6 equal tepals (petals and sepals) with a length to width ratio of at least 5:1 and no overlap between segments.

For at least 30 years, eyed varieties have been rewarded in the marketplace and by the judges. The most common eyes are darker blotches of color on each tepal at the center of the flower. In the last 10 years a number of hybridizers have succeeded in obtaining both eyes and edges on the same flower. In 2000 the highest award for a daylily, the Stout Medal, was awarded to ‘Strawberry Candy’, a pink small-flowered variety with rose red eye and edge.

The other major distinction in daylilies is for ploidy, that is, the number of chromosomes in the plant. Standard plants are diploid, that is carrying 2 of each chromosome. Sometimes in nature, but in daylilies, initially by chemical manipulation, the number of chromosomes is doubled to 4 (tetraploid). Diploids and tetraploids cannot mate. Tetraploids generally are larger plants in all respects and have heavier substance. Although early tetraploids were clearly different from “dips”, the average gardener today will choose a daylily on the basis of appearance, color, and plant health. Hybridizers must be concerned about ploidy however, and tetraploids are commonly designated in daylily lists by an asterisk (*).

It is worth noting that there are no blue daylilies to date, and no true whites or greens, though there are near-whites from the yellow or pink side, greenish yellows, and plenty of lavenders, purples, and “blacks” (very dark red). There are yellow and gold continuous bloomers, and a pink on which the jury is out. Sadly, most classed as rebloomers, rebloom only sporadically in our area. You can still have daylily bloom from mid-June through frost, though, by selecting very early (EE), early mid-season (EM), midseason (M), late midseason (ML), late (L) and very late (VL). A good strategy is to ask us for recommendations for yellow or red varieties in several of these categories. That way you will have design mass with the plant form, but a continuation of color over a long period.

Daylily lovers have been distressed over the last three years, as an Asian daylily rust appeared first in Florida and rapidly in many other states, including New York. In all cases in New York, it appeared on plants brought in from other known infected areas. Our Department of Agriculture Plant Inspectors are working closely with nurseries in the State, educating us to the signs of rust, and ordering the destruction of any stocks suspected of contamination. Here at Phoenix Flower Farm, we have not purchased new daylilies for the past three years. We will do so this year, but only from carefully selected suppliers, and we will quarantine all new plants at another location for a full year. Preliminary indications are that daylily rust will not be so serious here in the North as for our more southern colleagues, but for a few years we will take a cautious approach. For up to the minute information, consult the AHS website