cutting back foliage?

frank325August 13, 2008

Do you cut back the leaves of your daylily in the fall or spring? The larger, "bulb" type of daylily, not the smaller plants. I've never done it for the few years I've lived at my house, so I wasn't sure if it should or should not be done. I've cut down all the stems already since they are done blooming, but now the leaves are left. They are still green, but aren't as nice as they were... they used to stand up more but now are sagging.

I didn't really get much into dealing with my landscaping until last summer so now I've taken an interest into doing things right.

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daylilydayzed(9/10 C. FLA.)

Daylily plants do not form bulbs. They have tuberous roots. If you cut the leaves off the plants cannot make food. Daylilies will survive for the short time it takes to regrow foliage by living off the nutrients stored in its tuberous roots. If a plant continually has its foliage removed will eventually die. Leave the leaves. They will shed the leaves when the winter comes and the plant goes dormant.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 3:22PM
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If they are going to shed the leaves, can't that then become part of the winter or spring cleaning? I'm just trying to make sure daylilies die to the ground more or less, so in the winter when it's dormant or in the spring I can just cut back everything.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 3:55PM
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Frank, some daylilies do not go dormant. Others do. You do not want to remove foliage unless it's brown, which the dormants will do when it's their natural time to do so. Until then they are using food to grow new scapes and roots, particularly in the fall and spring.

Perhaps you are talking though about true lilies, which daylilies are not. I don't know anything about lilies (lilium) and others may wish to correct me about daylilies. I am not an expert, but I have talked to a few. The word is--don't cut green foliage.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 8:56AM
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I cut back and clean up all foliage once a year. In spring, preferably following a freeze or frost and before the dormants begin to grow. It aids in preventing snails that feed on the dead foliage and fungal diseases and makes the beds look nice. It also is a stating point to spray to prevent rust. This is a good time to survey your plant markers and replace any that are failing. Doesn't hurt a thing.
Dead foliage can be removed anytime.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 12:39PM
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Jim pretty well stated it - don't cut green foliage.

Think the OP should determine whether he has true lilies (lilium) - which does have the "bulb" or daylilies (hemerocallis) which has the rhizomes.

If lily bulbs, the stem and foliage is needed to replenish the bulb and should be allowed to remain until it has browned out and become woody. Guessing the foliage does pretty much the same for the rhizomes of daylilies. I've always just cut mine back sometime in October since most Zone 4 gardens are pretty well finished by then. I like to pile up the compost in the fall, anyway.

The OP will catch on to the trick of planting things in front to hide the foliage of plants that have finished blooming and begin their seasonal decline.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 5:27PM
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i_dig_it(z5a - Illinois)

I came here and did a search for this topic after getting an email from Learn2Grow.

It was about seasonal gardening tasks and in the article it said to cut back your daylilies now to prevent having to deal with dead foliage mixed in with new spring growth.

Somehow this just didn't seem right to me and I'm glad I didn't run out and cut down all my daylilies. They still have lots of green foliage on them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cutting Back Perennials

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:58PM
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mikeandbarb(z8 D/FW)

It just goes to show you that not everyone knows what their talking about. I watch shows on gardening and hear or see mistakes from time to time. Even gardening books can make mistakes.
I like my daylilies to be neat and tidy so through out the season's I take off the spent leaves, it's time consuming but it's gives me a reason to be outside ..grin..

Frank, If your daylilies do not bloom much in the coming years it will be time to divide them. I won't load you down this time around on how to but when it's time just come here and someone will answer your questions on how to divide them. Also daylilies like organic fertilizer compost. Glad to see your getting into gardening it's a great way to enjoy being outside and great for stress.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 7:26PM
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After reading your OP, I think you are definitely talking about daylilies, since you said you already cut down the stems (which are called scapes on the daylily plant.) Since you still have foliage growing, you indeed have daylilies. If you cut true lilies back to the ground you would have no foliage left, since the foliage on a true lily grows from the lily stalk. As was mentioned by daylilydayzed, daylilies do not grow from bulbs - only true lilies do.

True lilies should be trimmed (after blooming) so that 2/3 of the stem is still standing. Then the stalks are cut back to the ground in fall, after all foliage turns brown.

But your question is about daylily foliage, and I'm getting off subject. It appears to me that different people cut back their foliage at different times, depending on their location/pest problems/disease problems.
Here in my zone 5, I leave all daylily foliage on the plant throughout the winter, because it helps insulate against freezing temps. I rarely have pest or disease problems, so I'm not worried about the dying & browned foliage surrounding the crown. In the Spring I try to remove as much of the dead foliage as possible. However, if I don't get around to removing it until the following Fall, (because of my own laziness), the plant doesn't suffer ill effects. the new foliage finds it's way through the old dried up leaves just fine - it just looks unsightly, if located in the front of a border/garden.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:43PM
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Now I am worried. We transplanted some daylillies this fall (too big for their britches) and after a couple weeks my husband told me to cut them back to the ground to give the roots time to take hold before our first frost. Have I now hurt them?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:36AM
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It depends how close to the ground you cut them. When daylilies are sent through the mail, they are cut back to about 5-6", and when planted, they sometimes lose the original foliage, and new foliage sprouts from the crown.
I don't know where you are in zone 5, but you should have a few weeks of growing weather left before the ground freezes, so maybe there's hope.

Next time, if you feel the need to cut them back, do it at least 6 weeks before the last average frost date for your area, and don't cut back any more than 6".

Maybe someone will add more expert advice than I can give.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Whens the best time to transplant daylilies spring or fall

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 10:58AM
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