General gardening topics

Growing and caring for daylilies in pots and containers in UK

Last updated on April 27th, 2020

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Daylilies also are known as Hemerocallis are a great plant to grow in the UK particularly because of their versatility and ability to withstand a range of growing conditions and soil conditions. They can tolerate a lot of weather fluctuations that UK Gardens have to contend with on a regular basis but more importantly, you can grow them in containers. Container-grown daylilies will work very well as long as you have the proper drainage holes and the right soil conditions which means moist free-draining compost.

This is particularly well suited to situations where gardeners might need to move a pot into direct sunlight and follow the sun around the garden during the day or in conditions where the soil really not suitable and is quite difficult to grow daylilies in your garden and it’s easier to simply grow in a container rather than try to amend the soil.

Choosing the right pot for growing daylilies

Choosing the right pots are important for daylilies because if a daylily doesn’t have enough space to grow, it will focus all of its energy on simply surviving and that means you won’t get as many of the flowers for which they are so famous. After all, that’s why most people plant the day lily so this would be a bit disappointing.

You want a larger pot to provide optimum growing conditions for the roots. Daylilies that tend to grow about 30cm wide and tall need a pot that is at least 30cm in diameter but it is better to pick one that’s about 40cm in diameter slightly larger again. Larger varieties need even larger containers. For example, if you are growing something that will reach 60cm, you will need a pot that is at least 60cm in diameter.

More importantly, all of the pots you choose need to have the correct drainage holes. If you get something like plastic and it doesn’t look like it has enough holes in the bottom, you can always drill extra drainage holes.

Planting at the right time

You can plant daylilies at many times throughout the year but it’s best to do it in the spring and the autumn. If you live in an area of the UK with severe frost, planting in the spring or autumn will allow your daylilies to get established in their roots before flowering.

If you live in an area that simply has cold winters but not as harsh as the northern regions of the UK, you can plant the daylilies after the last frost date in spring, usually around April or about 4 weeks prior to the first frost date in the Autumn so planting around September would be a good time.

How to plant bare root and potted daylilies

When you are ready to plant in your containers, start by spreading a good quality potting soil over the base of each container approximately 10-15cm deep. We recommend using a John Innes potting compost because it retains moisture well which they prefer.

Plant the bare-root Daylilies and place the roots on the potting soil in their respective pots. Alternatively, if you have pot grown plants, you can remove the plant from the container and put the root ball on the potting soil.

Add more potting soil around the base of each pot until such time as the Daylily sits at the right depth and is perfectly backfilled with compost and firm around the compost being careful not to compact the compost to much.

The base of the chutes for bare-root daylilies need to be about 5-10cm below the rim of the pot. the base of the chutes for a container-grown Daylily need to be around 5cm below the rim of the pot.

After that, place the containers in a final position which gets as much sun as possible. If you have a Daylily that produces pastel shaded flowers look for an area that gives partial shade sometime throughout the day as they tend to do better in with a little shade.

Once they are in their final position, water well but slowly over the surface soil until the water has flowed through all of the potting soil and out the drainage holes at the bottom.

Regular care


Once they are in their containers there’s very little you have to do. They will flower best if they are grown in evenly moist potting compost which means that you have to water them whenever the surface soil is dry to the touch but don’t let me dry out too much, ideally moist but not waterlogged.

Every time you water, do so until you see the water flow through the drainage holes and then allow the pot to drain entirely before you put it back in a drip tray. You might have to water your daylilies every day if you have very hot or windy weather. especially in summer when they are actively growing.

Deadheading and hemerocallis gall midge

Daylilies don’t require much pruning but we recommend removing spent flowers, this makes them look better as well as helping to prevent hemerocallis gall midge infestations which cause the buds to swell and die before opening. If you do notice this happening it’s not usually fatal to the plant but we recommend removing affected flowers.

Dividing plants

Every 4-5 years you may notice poor flowering which is usually caused when they become root bound and at his point, they need removing from there pots, dividing and then replanting in new compost.

Winter protection

During the winter you need to give them protection against the frost. They will die back in areas that have very cold weather. You can leave your pots in a frost-free area like a greenhouse, garage or a garden shed until new shoots are produced in the spring or you can group all of the containers together and cover them with old blankets or horticultural fleece so that the containers with the roots stay warm.

Other related guide you may be interested in

Why are my Daylilies not flowering (Hemerocallis)

Going Daylilies – the complete guide

Growing Daylilies from seed

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