Why disparage the ditch daylily?

double orange daylily August 12 2017 small
Hemerocallis fulva ‘Kwanzo’, I think.  It was given by a neighbour when it started to spread and overtake his small garden.

New daylily shoots are a few inches tall now – the perfect size, I think, to divide large clumps and spread the joy around the garden or with friends, if you’re able to tread lightly in the garden.

That last point is crucial – if your soil is still mushy from spring snow melt or if spring ephemerals are still emerging you don’t want to be clomping around with big boots, compacting soil, destroying the structure that many organisms need and  thrive in.

Probably the most vigorous daylily in these parts is the much maligned Hemerocallis fulva – also know as a ditch daylily, tiger lily, orange day lily…  The main complaint is that the orange is too bright.  Huh?  Orange is supposed to be bright!  People also say it’s too prolific, spreads too much, is too tall, the leaves flop after blooming….the litany goes on.  Me, I look forward, every year starting the last week of June and lasting throughout July, to driving along country roads and seeing large clumps of the cheery, welcoming flowers.  Like any plant they should be properly situated. So no, don’t plant them if you have a really small garden.  Even the cultivated varieties will spread, but possibly not with the same speed as Hemerocallis fulva var fulva – the more common, single variety that easily spreads and can be seen in ditches and at the edges of woodlots all over.  These plants are so often seen in natural settings here people may think they’re native; they’re not.  They originate in Asia.

Plant them with the expectation they will spread!  Plant them where they will be seen by passerby! Plant them where you want a huge swath of colour mid summer! Take joy in their exuberance!

orange daylilies coming up April 21 2018
This large patch of emerging H. fulva var fulva will, in mid July, look like…

orange daylilies in back field July 19 2009 small


  1. There’s a tiger lily at work that was flowering until November! Thank you for your homage to this plant that keeps on giving. Where some people see a reason to complain – too bright, too tall, too prolific – I see superlatives and great potential. Wonderful post.


  2. I will never say “no” to an offer of any daylily. Oddly enough, I find that here only the orange ones tend to spread too much. Variety doesn’t matter. If it’s orange, it’ll be a spreader.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s