The daylily's flower just lasts for one day.
The daylily's flower just lasts for one day. iStock

Enjoy the fleeting beauty of daylilies

Daylilies are one of those plants that should be more widely grown. They aren't true lilies, but rather a clumping plant with strappy leaves bearing spikes of large, showy, lily-like flowers.

These are marvellous plants, originating in temperate Asia. Their botanical name, hemerocallis, comes from the Greek words for 'day' and 'beauty', reflecting the fact that each beautiful flower only lasts for one day. But the good news is that there are many flowers on each stalk, and many stalks in each clump, so an established clump of daylilies will flower for weeks.

Daylilies are low-maintenance plants that suit just about any landscape. Use them as a border or filler in a tropical garden or a cottage garden, or as a massed planting in a country garden. The flowering season starts in late spring and continues through to autumn.

Plant them in a sunny to partly shaded position where they have a bit of room to multiply. Mulch as usual to preserve moisture, and remove spent flowers and leaves. Use a complete plant food in spring and summer. You can dig up clumps and divide them every 2-3 years. Dig up the clump, divide the crowns, remove the leaves, and replant the separated parts in pots or directly in a garden. Winter is the best time to do this.

Daylilies are frost tolerant, drought resistant, almost disease and insect free, and easy to divide and share. They might occasionally show signs of rust in warm, humid weather, and this can be treated with organic Eco-Fungicide if you like.

Daylily flowers, and the full, firm buds, are edible. The flowers open early in the morning, and that is the best time to harvest, while they are still fresh and crisp. You can store the flowers and buds in the fridge if you don't want to use them straight away. The flowers are best consumed on the same day as harvest, while the buds can be kept for a day or two. Remove the central pistel and pollen-bearing stamens before eating. The flavour is quite delicate, and the texture is pleasantly crunchy.