How to Grow and Care for Orange Daylily

Orange daylily plant with orange star-shaped flower and buds closeup

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Also known as the common daylily, the orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) is a low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for hardy perennial with showy blooms. It sports curving strap-like foliage similar to ornamental grasses, making it beautiful even when not in bloom. However, once the bright orange trumpet-shape flowers rise on tall stems above the foliage in the summertime, the real show starts.

You can plant daylilies in the spring as soon as the soil thaws, as well as in the early fall at least six weeks prior to your area's projected first fall frost date. They have a rapid growth rate and are even considered invasive in some areas. Also, be mindful about where you plant them, as they are toxic to cats.

Common Name Orange daylily, common daylily, tawny daylily
Botanical Name Hemerocallis fulva
Family Asphodelaceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 2–2.5 ft. tall, 2–2.5 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Orange
Hardiness Zones 3–9 (USDA)
Native Area Asia
Toxicity Toxic to cats

Orange Daylily Care

Caring for established orange daylilies is very simple. For the most part, this is a hands-off plant. Occasional pruning and dividing, as well as watering during prolonged dry spells, should do.

Adding some compost to the soil at the time of planting is recommended, but these hardy flowers are tolerant of many soil conditions. Be sure to plant them in full sun for the most blooms.

Warning

Because the orange daylily can thrive in a variety of conditions, it is deemed invasive in some areas. States including Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland list it as invasive.

Orange daylily flowers with orange star-shaped petals on thin stems with buds

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Orange daylily plant surrounded by blade-like foliage with orange flowers on side of building

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Light

These cheery flowers love full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, in hot climates they might need a bit of shade from the harsh afternoon sun. And while they can still grow in somewhat shady areas in general, they won't produce as many blooms.

Soil

Orange daylilies can grow in poor soils as long as they have good drainage. But they prefer an organically rich, moist soil. A slightly acidic to neutral soil pH is best.

Water

Water young plants at least weekly to keep the soil moist but never soggy. After the first year, you likely won’t have to water your mature daylilies unless your area is going through a prolonged drought. But note that the plants prefer roughly an inch of water per week and will produce more blooms if they have optimal moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

Orange daylilies have good tolerance for both heat and humidity. Frost will kill the foliage and cause them to go dormant in the fall. But they should survive through winter temperatures that drop well below freezing.

Fertilizer

Because these plants are not picky when it comes to soil type, they don’t require fertilization unless you have very poor soil. If you do have poor soil, use a balanced fertilizer in the spring. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions.

Types of Orange Daylily

There are several types of daylilies, including:

  • ‘Europa’: This cultivar features orange blooms with darker reddish streaks.
  • ‘Kwanso’: This cultivar is known for its profuse tangerine blooms.
  • ‘Kwanso Variegata’: The foliage on this cultivar is green with white stripes, improving its ornamental value.

Pruning

If all of the flowers on a flower stalk have bloomed, you can cut the whole stalk down to the ground to keep a tidy look. Feel free to remove any unsightly foliage or seed pods as well.

Propagating Orange Daylily

Orange daylilies can spread quite rapidly through underground rhizomes. To keep them from getting overcrowded and to create more daylily plants, you can divide mature plants in the fall. Here’s how: 

  1. Wait until your daylily is done blooming for the season.
  2. Gently dig up the root system using a spade. Try to avoid cutting roots as much as possible.
  3. Using sharp garden snips or a spade, divide the entire plant into two or more sections. 
  4. Replant the sections wherever you wish at the same depth they previously were growing. Water well.

How to Grow Orange Daylily From Seed

If you wish to grow daylilies from seed, you can either direct sow them in the spring after the ground has thawed or start them indoors. Plant them in a moist seed-starting mix roughly 1/2 inch deep. Keep the soil moist but never soggy, and you should see germination in about two weeks.

Potting and Repotting Orange Daylily

Growing orange daylily plants in containers isn’t much different from growing them in the ground; both are easy and low-maintenance. Make sure to use a pot with drainage holes. Unglazed clay is a good material because it will let excess soil moisture evaporate through its walls.

You'll also need a fairly large pot to accommodate the daylily's root system. A 5-gallon container should suffice. Aim to choose a container that will accommodate the plant's mature size to avoid disturbing the roots with repotting.

The best time to plant a container is in the spring. Fill the container with potting soil instead of garden soil, as heavy garden soil can compact after frequent waterings and smother the plant's roots.

Overwintering

As winter approaches, it is best to leave the foliage in place, allowing it to die off and remain on the ground. This will help to protect and insulate the roots over winter. Remove the plant debris in the early spring.

Common Pests

Pest and disease problems are rare for daylilies. You might see aphids and thrips on your plants, but generally a strong spray of water or an insecticidal soap can take care of any issues.

How to Get Orange Daylily to Bloom

The daylily flower only lasts one day, hence the name, but these plants are never short on fresh blooms. Their famous 5-inch, star-shaped, non-fragrant flowers can be slightly ruffled on the edges. They boast varying shades of orange on each flower, offering a vibrant display from midsummer to fall. 

Deadheading, or removing the spent blooms, isn't mandatory. But it will help to keep your plants looking tidy, and it can encourage repeat blooming. Sufficient sunshine and water also will encourage profuse blooms, as will dividing mature plants after they're done blooming for the season to maintain their vigor.

Common Problems With Orange Daylily

Orange daylilies rarely have problems as long as they are planted in the proper environment. But they can have some issues that often stem from their growing conditions.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellowing leaves can often be a sign of both overwatering and underwatering. The soil never should be waterlogged nor should it be allowed to fully dry out. Yellowing also can be a sign of the foliage naturally dying back in the fall.

Leaves Turning Brown

Brown, dry leaves on daylilies are often the result of too much direct sunlight in hot, dry weather. If you live in a hot, dry climate, try to give your daylilies some afternoon shade. And water regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

FAQ
  • What's the difference between orange daylily and lily?

    With flowers almost identical in looks, the daylily and lily are often confused for each other. However, daylily foliage is long and sprouts from the ground, and the flower stalks don't have foliage. Meanwhile, lilies have both foliage and flowers on the same stalk.

  • Where should I place orange daylily outside my house?

    Daylilies can form an excellent border, and they can act as a ground cover plant that crowds out weeds. Plus, you can plant them on slopes to help control soil erosion. 

  • Can orange daylily grow indoors?

    Orange daylilies do not grow well indoors, as they need lots of direct sunlight to bloom. However, they can make for nice cut flowers. Even though the blooms only last for a day, the buds on the stalk should continue to open for about a week when kept in a vase.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Orange Day Lily. ASPCA.

  2. Tawny Daylily. Invasive Plant Atlas.