The Hemerocallis species are of interest to people who wish to know more about the history and development of the daylily. Many species have unique characteristics and an understated natural beauty that lends themselves to centerpiece plantings, cottage gardens and more. For further information, a good source of original information is A.B. Stout's book, Daylilies, originally published in 1934, it was reprinted in 1986, by J.M Dent and Sons, London. A more up to date reference is The New Daylily Handbook An updated anthology based on the classic 1968 Am. Hort.Soc. Daylily Handbook republished by the Am Daylily Soc. in 2002.

Hemerocallis (hem-er-o-kal-lis), the botanical name for daylily means in Greek ''beautiful for a day'. Each flower only opens for one day. After it is spent, it is succeeded by the next day's blossom. Established clumps bloom vigorously for weeks and weeks.

The daylily is a monocot related to Orchids, Hostas and Grasses. Daylilies were originally thought to be in the the Lily family (Liliaceae) but are now placed in their own family Hemerocallidaceae. and are in the genus Hemerocallis . Daylily species were originally found in Manchuria, Mongolia, Northern India as well as throughout China, Japan and Korea. In their natural habitat daylilies are found in swamps, seashore meadows, forests edges and on mountains up to 10,000 feet.

While there was some hybridizing of daylilies in the early 1900's however it wasn't until the 1930's when Dr. A.B. Stout ( New York Botanical Garden link to A B Stouts's archives) began to working with daylilies, hybridizing and identifying the species that they really took off. Dr Stout did extensive breeding work and developed dozens of hybrids. Since then daylilies have become nearly as popular as roses. They are collected, grown and hybridized by people around the world.

It is amazing to think that from approximately 20 species of daylilies over 45,000 varieties of daylily hybrids have been developed. While the colors of most species are orange, yellow or rarely pinkish there are now daylily hybrids in shades of red, purple, near white and more! With so many daylily varieties to choose from why would one want to grow daylily species?

Besides the historical interest of growing a species there are many traits that makes a species desirable. First and foremost in our opinion is the simple natural lines and form that species exhibit. The trumpet or simple star shapes of the blooms, the graceful narrow foliage and the loose growth habit of many of the species is delightful and fits into most landscaping designs. Secondly as plants that have evolved over millions of years they contain potential adaptability that may not be present some of the more modern cultivars. Finally from a breeding standpoint the species may contain genetic material that could produce new yet undiscovered traits.
The daylily species listed below are arranged by bloomtime here in Vermont

Hem. citrina next to a large tetraploid hybrid. Close examination demonstrates the different characteristics between the two types.

Hemerocallis sp. in its native habitat in Japan. Coexsisting with various other herbaceous plants on presumably what is a seaside meadow. It is not clear which species this is though.
Hemerocallis minor

Hemerocallis minor
Usually the earliest daylilies to bloom. This yellow daylily has scapes only 10-12 long, 3" star shaped blooms and low grass-like foliage. Hem. minor seems to have a relatively short bloom time as well lasting only about 2-3 weeks.

Hemerocallis minor:
This photograph was possibly originally from Dr Stout's research. It was found in Dr Darrow's files. Noteable is the grass-like foliage.
Hemerocallis minor foliage:
Notice the small short bracted scapes. This plant was grown from seeds supplied by the American Rock Garden Society.
Hemerocallis dumortieri

Hemerocallis dumortieri
Hemerocallis dumortieri is frequently one of the first daylilies to bloom here in Vermont. We have also noticed that this is one of the most fragrant daylilies, surpassing Hem. lilioasphodelus. Vigorous and exteremly hardy this species blooms early and well for us regardless of the winter and spring conditions. The red backed sepals add the the attractiveness of this plant. Foliage is blue-green and noticeably spikey.

Hemerocallis dumortieri

Star shaped golden yellow blooms 4" across are produced on 26" scapes.


 Hem. dumortieri

The red buds of Hem. dumortieri are distinctive. There is the potential for heavily pigmented scapes in Hem. dumortieri hybrids
Pigmented hybrid link
Hemrocallis middendorfii


Hem. middendorfii
This Hem. middendorfii was acquired from a commercial source.

Strong vigorous growth and prolific bloom is characteristic of Hem. middendorfii.

The Japan hybrids originally came from Dr G Darrow. The Japan Hybrids look like a larger version of the common H middendorfii. They are not tetraploids and exhibit the short squat bract characteristic of H middendorfii species.

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus(flava)

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus
the so-called Lemon Lily this daylily species is also quite early although consistently blooming after Hemerocallis dumortieri and Hemerocallis middendorfii. The color is a clear lemon yellow and has a distinct fragrance. This daylily has a somewhat spreading habit but is a slow grower here in Vermont. One of the first daylilies introduced into the U. S., it is sometimes found near old abandoned cellar holes, a testament to daylily's longevity.

Hem.lilioasphodelus was originally called Hem flava refering to it's lemony scent.

The spreading habit is not particularly vigorous and so creates loose clumps. Hem lilioasphodelus seems to prefer a damper location as well.


Hemerocallis lilio. cont.

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus 'Major
Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus 'Major is a larger type of Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus. Blooms are larger with more substance

Hem flava 'Major' has larger denser foliage in a greater clump effect.

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus is characterized by round seed pods, lemon yellow trumpet shaped blooms and a distinct fragrance.