Growing dayliles for plants and flowers

Growing daylilies Not only do Daylilies have an extraordinary variety of blooms to enjoy but they are also delicious to eat. They require little space, making them an ideal commercial crop for people with only a few acres.

The buds and flowers are great added to salads, stir fry, or as a garnish in casseroles and soups. The buds can be dropped into tempura batter and deep fried. Whilst there has been much discussion over flavour, the most popular eating are the pink, yellow and orange flowers, which are slightly spicy. The darker red blooms tend to have a more bitter flavour.

Daylilies are easy to grow:

  • They can be planted anytime of the year but autumn should give optimum results.
  • Most varieties prefer full all day sun.
  • They grow best in free draining soil. For heavier clay soils, work generous amounts of compost through, loosening up the soil into a friable condition.
  • Add some sheep manure or blood and bone to the soil - work in well.
  • Raise the soil into rows when you plant, this helps with drainage and harvesting your plants and flowers.
  • Daylilies are generally sold as bare-rooted plants, with their strap like leaves chopped back. Each of these plants will rapidly multiply into a clump.
  • Give each of the plants plenty of room to grow - spacing depends entirely on the variety you grow.
  • Once planted water well and continue to water daily for the first week.

Ongoing Maintenance:

  • Mulch the plants to help with weed control.
  • Daylilies are drought tolerant but for top results, a weekly watering is recommended.
  • Fertilise the plants annually with a general fertiliser.
  • Slugs and snails can be an issue - it's a good idea to use whatever measures you are comfortable with to keep these pests in check.
  • Once flowering is over 'clean up' the plants by trimming the foliage by about half. Whilst it sounds a bit drastic, the quickest method on a large scale is with a tractor mower set on high. Some growers use a weed-eater or hedge trimmer. This promotes growth and keeps plants in good condition.
  • Every 3 - 4 years the clumps can be split up.
Daylilies are not true lilies - they belong to the genus Hemerocallis - based on the Greek words Hemera, meaning day and Kallos meaning beauty.  A fitting name for the bloom which literally lasts one day. They are one of the most hybridised plants with over 40,000 named varieties and hundreds of new ones being added each year. Colour and flower variation are vast.

Every daylily plant produces flower buds on leafless stalks called scapes. They flower from October to April (I still had a few flowers holding on in June), with some varieties producing up to 400 flowers in a season from one clump.

As with any business venture, it's about seeing the opportunity in a product or service. When I went to the Ellerslie flower show a few years ago, a grower had a retail site there. People were filling their shopping bags with these bare-rooted plants, many of the more unusual (and more expensive) varieties had already sold out. Because they can be planted year round a stand at the Local Farmers Market could reward a grower. An entrepreneurial person might come up with new and interesting ways of using the flowers and buds.  I have always wondered if there was a market for the flowers into restaurants. It would require picking and delivering the flowers the same day for use in the restaurant that night. Some investigation into preserving the flowers could extend their shelf life and open different markets. Regardless of all of this they will cheer up a paddock on any property.

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