The orange flowers of the common orange daylily brighten up ditches and old farmsteads across the country, where they were once planted by fanciers in droves. These nineteenth century gardeners didn’t realize how aggressively their orange flowers would grow, or that one day daylily weed control would be a serious pursuit. If you’ve got a daylily problem, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for tips on controlling daylilies.
Are Daylily Plants Invasive?
Common orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), also known as ditch lilies or tiger lilies, are extremely invasive and hard to kill once established, but unlike many garden favorites, these daylilies don’t need special care to get established, or possibly any care whatsoever. They may spread from a stand started long ago, or from tubers pulled out of other gardens and tossed on the ground in your garden. Many gardeners find their daylily is out of control and panic, but pulling them takes patience; these are not your typical landscape plants.
Although orange daylilies are usually the problem plants, hybrid daylilies have the potential to run amok as well through self seeding, so take care if you replace your orange daylilies with these hybrids. Installing a barrier well ahead of planting season and harvesting any seedpods that may develop on your hybrid daylilies can save lots of headaches down the line.
When you’re dealing with daylilies, you’re working with something that behaves just like a perennial weed. They emerge from tubers in the soil and your control efforts must take this behavior into account to be successful.
How to Get Rid of Daylilies
Depending on the size of your daylily problem, you may be able to dig them out by hand and discard them in plastic bags. Make sure to carefully comb the soil of all the little bits of root or tubers and tightly seal the bags you’re using for disposal. These plants can easily grow back from sections of root; improper disposal will create a headache for someone else.
Some gardeners have had good luck mowing down daylilies and then smothering them with thick layers of mulch. Apply 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) over the daylily stand, but be prepared to fight with them through the season.
Like any perennial weed, the daylilies will continue to try to send new growth up through the mulch. You may need to apply more mulch if any green parts make it through your mulch barrier. Adding a thick layer of newspaper and watering it well before installing the mulch will give the daylilies an even greater challenge.
A systemic weed killer, applied carefully, can be used to destroy daylilies if they’re not close to anything you’d prefer not to kill. This type of non-selective herbicide will destroy anything that it coats, including daylilies and your favorite rose bush, so wait for a calm, hot day to hit the daylily stand. Coat the unwanted plants liberally, but don’t allow the herbicide to drip onto the ground or nearby plants. It can take up to two weeks to see results, but if any daylilies still look healthy, respray them at this time.
Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.