dividing day lilies

How to Divide Day Lilies

What are Day Lilies?

If you’re looking for a drought resistant, long lived, hardy  and easy to care for perennial to solve some of your landscaping problems, then day lilies (Hemerocallis spp) may be just what you’re looking for.

With their arching sword like leaves and large trumpet shaped blooms, they create a colorful border or be placed as an accent. Because they are so hardy, day lilies are a great choice for hard to landscape areas. Although each bloom lasts only for a day, the plant can blossom for up to six weeks. This is a longer season than most perennials, adding bright color to the garden for weeks.

divide day lilies

Day lilies prefer growing in full sun, but are not really fussy about it. They will continue to bloom, especially if you divide the clumps every few years as they multiply and become overcrowded.  Overcrowded day lilies will produce fewer and fewer blooms.  By dividing daylilies into smaller clumps and replanting them, you give them more growing room, revitalizing the plants.

When to Divide Day Lilies

Divide day lilies in late summer to early fall, after they have finished blooming for the season.  Use a sharp spade or garden fork to lift the clump from the soil, being careful to get the complete clump.

Next, take two garden forks  and push the forks back to back into the midst of the clump.  This can take quite a bit of effort, since the roots and and tubers are twined together. Pull the garden fork handles apart, forcing the roots to separate into two smaller clumps.  If the clump is really large, you may have to separate it into several divisions.

This method works well, but if you don’t own two garden forks, you can divide day lilies  by cutting through the clump with a sharp spade, as in the above video. Don’t worry about cutting some of the fleshy roots – they’ll still grow.

I’ve even washed the entire clump, thus freeing the fleshy roots from the soil, making them easier to separate by hand into smaller divisions, then immediately replanting them, making sure to water well.

To replant the daylily divisions, dig a wide shallow hole about six inches wider than the rootball of your day lilies.  Place the rootball in the hole with the crown at the same level it was before you divided it. Fill around it, tamping the soil into place and water thoroughly. Add mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and keep weeds away.

Trim back the foliage to about 10 inches so the new plants can put energy into re-establishing a strong root system. By the following summer, you’ll be rewarded with even more of these lovely blooms gracing your gardens and borders.

divide day lilies