All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize Daylilies


Daylilies are beautiful flowering plants that, despite their name, are not really lilies. They are actually perennial plants that belong to the genus Hemerocallis, and their name comes from the fact that their flowers usually last a day. Depending on the species you can find daylilies of different colors (red, yellow, orange, purple), and in some cases their flowers open only at night. Given the popularity of this plant, an article could not be missing on our blog. Here we will analyze everything related to the use of fertilizer for daylilies, which ones to use, how and when to apply it and more.

Fertilizer for Daylilies

Before starting the article, it should be mentioned that fertilization in these plants is not something strictly necessary, that is, your daylilies will live the same without being fertilized. But taking into account that they are plants that we grow for their flowers, and knowing that a correct use of fertilizer improves the quality of the quantity of flowers, it makes this maintenance task very important.

Interesting fact: we already said where the name daylily comes from, but do you know the origin of the word Hemerocallis? It comes from nothing more and nothing less from the Greek ἡμέρα (hemera) “day” and καλός (kalos) “beautiful”, it has its logic, doesn’t it?

1. Caring your Daylily plant


In general, these flowering plants do not require much care. Especially if you plant it outdoors, the care will be almost minimal. In case you want to grow it indoors, you will need to try harder for it to develop properly.

  • Sunlight: For daylilies to produce the best and most beautiful flowers, they need good sun exposure to thrive. It is recommended that they have between 6 and 8 hours of sun a day. If you want to place it in places with less sun exposure (indoors), keep in mind that lilies with darker flowers adapt better to this situation, and it is also good that they have at least 4 hours of sun.
  • Soil: they have the ability to adapt to almost any soil, from a sandy one to a very clayey one. In any case, the ideal soil is one with a good amount of organic matter and a good drainage capacity. Know that the root system of daylilies is shallow, so make sure the first 6 inches of soil drains off easily.
  • Irrigation: in the development and flowering periods (spring-summer) you must make sure to keep these plants well watered. Try to water every 7 days at a depth of about 10 inches, this way you make sure that the water does not stay for a long time flooding the roots, avoiding possible fungal attacks.
  • Mulching: Daylilies feel very comfortable if you cover their base with leaf mulch, wood chips, compost, etc. This has many benefits, such as controlling temperature changes, improving moisture retention, controlling possible weed growth, etc.
  • Planting time: the ideal time to plant daylilies is in spring or fall, depending on the climate of the area. If you wait to plant in spring, keep in mind that the first year you will generally not have a very abundant bloom. As soon as the second year, when the plants have taken root well, they will flower in all their fullness.
  • Fertilization: this point could not be missing between the cares. In any case, we will develop it in depth in the following sections.

2. Most important nutrients for Daylilies


If we must summarize the nutrient needs of daylilies, we can do so by using what we know as the main nutrients, which are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (K) and potassium. Controlling the levels of these nutrients in the soil will not ensure proper development and ideal flowering. But what effect does each of these nutrients have on our daylilies?

  • Nitrogen: in the necessary levels it helps plants to generate their leaves and maintain their green color. Both deficiencies and excesses of this nutrient are very harmful.
  • Phosphorus: helps plants to generate roots, flowers, seeds and fruits. Another is very beneficial in providing protection against disease.
  • Potassium: it is essential when it comes to generating strong branches and stems, as well as benefiting from faster and healthier growth.

The ideal is to carry out a test in the soil, which allows us to know the levels of nutrients in it, from this we can create a good and efficient fertilization plan.

2.1 What are NPK values?

You already know that the main nutrients your plants need are three (N, P, K), but how can we buy the fertilizer we need for each plant? For this there is what is known as NPK values, they define the concentration of these nutrients in a fertilizer.

Surely if you have ever used a commercial fertilizer you will have noticed that there are three numbers separated by a dash on its packaging. Those are, coincidentally, the NPK values.

Let’s take a simple example for you to understand:

If you have a 1 kg packet of fertilizer whose NPK values ​​are 10-5-10. This means that 100 g is nitrogen, 50 g is phosphorus, and 100 g is potassium. The rest is completed with other micronutrients and chemicals added from the fertilizer itself.

In other words, each number represents the percentage by weight of the nutrient with respect to the total weight. I think it’s a pretty simple definition, I hope it’s been clear as we’ll use this concept in the next section.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3. Best fertilizer for Daylilies


When we are going to fertilize any plant in our garden we can take two paths, one is to use commercial fertilizers and the other is to opt for the use of organic fertilizers, many of which we can prepare at home. The use of one or the other has its advantages and disadvantages.

Well used commercial fertilizers will always give faster and more noticeable results than any organic fertilizer. This is because the dose of nutrients in its composition is known, managing to control exactly how much we apply.

When we use organic fertilizers, we make sure not to put any additional chemicals in the soil (chemicals present in commercial fertilizers). Too many of these chemicals can be harmful to bacterial life in the soil. It is also very difficult for us to exceed the maximum doses, so there is less risk of damaging the plant.

Personally, for garden plants I like to do a mixed use, that is, to apply both commercial and organic fertilizers. So that we can take advantage of the benefits that both options offer us. Knowing this below I detail which are the best fertilizers to apply on daylilies

3.1 Commercial fertilizer

If you are looking for a commercial fertilizer for daylilies, you should know what are the NPK values that the daylilies need. We have already studied what NPK values are, so you shouldn’t have a problem understanding them. 😉

Depending on the moment you need to apply more or less nitrogen fertilizers. Although we will analyze this in the next section, I will tell you that the best commercial fertilizers for these plants are the following:

  • 5-10-10
  • 5-10-5
  • 3-12-12
  • 4-8-12

In addition to the NPK values, you must choose in which format you will buy the fertilizers. There are liquids, granules, bars, powders, etc. Although the most important classification is to divide them between slow or fast release. For example, stick fertilizers are slow release (they release nutrients gradually, taking months to complete the release) while liquids are immediate release.

3.2 Organic fertilizer

If what you want is to use organic fertilizers, there are many alternatives, each one will provide you with more or less amounts of each of the three main nutrients.

Some of the organic fertilizers that can give good results to your daylilies are the following:

  • Compost: it is a fairly heterogeneous source of nutrients, although nitrogen is generally the one found in greater quantity.
  • Soy flour: mainly contributes N within its composition.
  • Bone meal: it is a good source when you need to add phosphorus.
  • Dried blood: widely used as a source of nitrogen for your plants.
  • Wood ashes: they provide a good amount of potassium.
  • Cottonseed meal: another good source of nitrogen.

These are just a few, surely you will find other gardeners who will recommend some organic fertilizers that I have not incorporated in the previous list.

4. How and when to fertilize Daylilies


Here is a fertilization plan using only commercial chemical fertilizers and then one in which natural organic fertilizers will be used. Then it will be you who decides which of those two fertilization plans you prefer to use on your daylilies.

Daylily plant
Daylily plant

4.1 Using commercial fertilizer

First of all, I recommend once again conducting a soil test that allows us to know how rich in nutrients it is. Otherwise, you will not know if the doses you are applying are too low or too high. Repairing damage due to excess nutrients is very tricky and can result in the death of your plants.

When what you have is average garden soil, meaning neither too poor nor too rich in organic matter, you can start fertilizing with 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 mixes in early spring. The dose that you must apply is 0.50 kg for every 30 square meters in large plantations. On the contrary, for individual plants you can apply one tablespoon per plant.

Once the fertilizer has been applied, and depending on the format you have chosen (granulate, bar, liquid), you must till the land correctly and accompany it with an irrigation. You should never forget to carefully read the instructions on the container, you should not exceed the indicated doses, it is better to place lower doses than those recommended. The latter because it is easier to solve a problem of lack of nutrients than of excess of them.

Once their flowering, which usually lasts between 20 and 30 days, is over, the plants enter a period of rest. This period when the plants are resting (during the summer) is very suitable for another fertilization. What is sought with this second fertilization is to improve the foliage that the plant produces after flowering. This will improve the size of the plant and increase flowering the following year.

For this second fertilization we must apply a fertilizer with low amounts of nitrogen. For this, what we will use is a 3-12-12 or 4-8-12 fertilizer. Being a fairly adequate dose of 0.50 kg per 30 square meters. If what we apply is a very nitrogenous fertilizer, we will push the plant to a great development in height, something that will end up weakening it due to the cold of winter.

4.2 Using organic fertilizer

Let’s now see how to prepare a fertilization plan using organic fertilizers. Something that will allow you not only to add less chemicals to your plants but you will also be saving some money.

With the knowledge of the properties of your soil (after an analysis) you will already know what the nutrient needs are. In case you only need to add nitrogen, you can use one of the following organic fertilizers (dose per 30 m2):

  • Dry blood: 1 kg.
  • Cotton seed flour: 1 Kg.
  • Soy flour: 1 kg.
  • Compost: here the dose is difficult to define since the amount of nitrogen it contains will depend on what the compost has been made with.

When you need to increase phosphorus levels, a very good organic source is bone meal. The dose information is not very clear, but a couple of handfuls around a group of plants will suffice.

Finally, for potassium deficiencies, what you can use is wood ash. For this, a suitable dose is between 2.50 and 3 kg per 30 m2. This works best when it comes to slightly acidic soils.

Remember that the doses that we have given you here are totally estimates, since they will depend exclusively on the nutrients in the soil.

5. Video about fertilizer for Daylilies


As in each and every one of our articles, we will end it with a video (from Schreiner’s Gardens channel) . I have no doubt that by seeing it you will be able to clarify some concepts seen here. And as it says in the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. I shouldn’t have said that, or you’re going to stop reading my blog. 😉

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