BEGINNER'S GUIDE
TO BUYING DAYLILIES

First, let me say that except for my once-a-year yardsale, I do not sell daylilies. I used to think that one day I would start a daylily business but have now decided that I'm going to keep this hobby just that... a hobby!

--- DAYLILY SOURCES ----
  • Mail order nurseries are are my favorite place to buy daylilies. Their overhead is usually fairly low which helps keep prices reasonable and because the plants are usually grown in ideal conditions, they tend to be of excellent size and quality. Of course, there are always exceptions, so it's probably a good idea to make your first order from a company a small one. You can find a listing of daylily growers in the AHS source list, or go directly to one of the many commercial daylily growers that have their own web sites (see Charlotte's Daylily Diary).

  • Local daylily club plant sales. These fund raising events usually sell plants dug from local member's gardens. Watch your local paper's gardening section for announcements of local sales or contact your local daylily club. Many local clubs now have websites and the American Hemerocallis Society has a list of local clubs (see my links page).

  • Daylily nurseries. Due to the increased popularity of the daylily, there are more and more daylily nurseries open to the public. Check with members of of your local daylily club to find out if there are any in your area.

  • Online Dayily Auction. While I have not used this site I have heard many good reports about it. Like any online auction you should use caution.

  • Local commercial garden and home centers. Historically, these have not be a particularly good place to buy daylilies as they often don't sell registered cultivars but instead sell pots marked 'red daylily' or 'yellow daylily'. Even when they do carry named varieties they are frequently reported to be incorrectly marked due to poor handling by employees. Nevertheless, I mention them here because they do frequently sell daylilies and there are some locations that sell correctly marked cultivars.

  • Trades - Daylilies multiply and trading your excess with other daylily growers is a popular way to add to your collection.

--- SELECTING CULTIVARS ---
  • While daylilies grow in all 50 states, from Alaska to Florida, not all daylilies will grow well in all climates. You should try and select those that do well in your area. If you live in the north where winters are harsh, I would avoid the more tender, evergreen cultivars, while if you live in the deep south I would avoid the dormant cultivars which tend to require a lengthy cold spell for them to perform well. This will not guarantee that a particular cultivar will do well in your area, but it greatly increases the odds in your favor.

  • Select popular cultivars. If lots of people like them, there are probably good reasons (like beauty and performance). The AHS conducts a popularity poll every year and the results are tabulated by region and published on the AHS website. AHS website - see popularity poll results

    If you have a daylily nursery in your area, contact them. They will be more than happy to help you select daylilies that will grow well for you. After all, a happy customer is a return customer.

  • Select cultivars that you have seen growing well in another local garden. These make a good choice because you already know that they perform well in your area.

  • Finally, get recommendations from daylily growers in your area. Locate a local daylily club and go to one of their meetings. Daylily folks are a friendly lot and most will be more than happy to tell you about their favorites.

--- PRICES ---
  • Daylily prices can vary from a few dollars for a double fan to up to well over two hundred dollars or more for a single fan. So why do daylilies sell for such a wide range of prices? Basically, it's the law of supply and demand. A new cultivar may be introduced at a starting price of $100.00. It can sell for this because it is rare. As more growers obtain this plant and multiply it, it becomes less rare and the price drops. If the cultivar is very popular or if it multiplies slowly, the price stays up longer. Likewise, if the daylily multiplies very fast or is not that poplular, the price will drop fairly quickly.

  • Does this mean that the cheaper cultivars are not as nice as the expensive ones? Not necessarily. It just means that there is more of that cultivar available. You can find hundreds of beautiful cultivars in the $5.00-$10.00 range because they have been around for years and lots of growers sell them, driving down prices.

  • Prices for a cultivar will often vary between different growers, in some cases by quite a bit. This may be because one grower has a large stock of the cultivar while another has only a little. There used to be a publication named Eureka Daylily Reference Guide which listed prices for numerous nurseries. Unfortunately, it is no longer published making it harder to price shop for the best deals.

  • There are a lot of factors other than list price to consider when evaluating a mail order grower's prices. Does the grower include gift plants with the order? Most do but some are much more generous than others. How many fans does the grower send? Most will send at least two but some will send a whole clump. I once received 12 fans of a cultivar for the 2-fan price but that was most unusual because the more fans, the more potential shipping costs. Does the grower send large healthy plants? I have received plants no bigger around than a pencil and I have received some that were over 3 inches in diameter. It is best to place only a small order with a grower you have not ordered from before. Then, if the order is up to your expectations, you can place larger orders.

--- CATALOGS ---
  • Many of the larger growers still offer catalogs and they can be requested by phone, mail, or e-mail. Some growers, especially the smaller growers, will offer only price lists because the cost involved with producing a catalog with color pictures.

  • If you join the American Hemerocallis Society, you will receive quarterly journals which contains lots of advertisements by growers all over the country. In addition, you will receive lots of catalogs. Many of the growers send out catalogs to the complete AHS membership.

  • Many nurseries now have their catalogs on line. The number of these on-line catalogs has increased dramatically over the past few years. Charlotte's Daylily Diary has a well organized listing of growers with many having on-line catalogs.

--- DAYLILY SEEDS ---

  • Growing daylilies from seed to many is a very exciting way to increase the number of daylilies that you grow, but if you are new to growing daylilies, you should read steps 4 thru 6 on my Hybridizing for Beginners page before you start. If you decide that you want to try it, you can find seeds offered on the Lily Auction Website.