When Should You Cut Back Daylilies?

Daylilies are a plant many backyard gardeners consider a “fan favorite.” Daylilies adapt quickly to a vast range of soil and climate conditions. They are also generally free from any severe insect issues. 

Red and yellow flowers of daylilies, Hemerocallis flowersPin
Daylilies need cutting back for best results | imagebrokermicrostock-DepositPhotos

But, Daylilies need cutting back over time. If they are a variety that lasts well into the fall months, you can cut them back in the early spring. When daylilies begin to turn brown in the late summer, this is ideal for cutting them back. 

The Best Time To Cut Back Daylily Foliage

Cut daylilies leaves and stems back to ensure that they do not look messy or ratty as time progresses.

The best time to consider cutting back daylily foliage is around the time that the leaves begin to die and turn brown. 

This is generally around the late fall to early winter months. There are a few things to consider:

  • It is okay to wait until all of the leaves die after the first hard frost and can easily be pulled off the plant’s base. 
  • The height you cut them can be adjusted to how they grow. For example, dwarf or mini daylilies can be cut to a shorter size.
  • If you want to propagate them, you can easily separate chunks and cut back the leaves to roughly six or seven inches and then replant them after the heat of the summer dies down. 

Is There a Wrong Time to Cut Back Daylilies?

There are not many ways to mess up cutting back daylilies, but cutting them at the wrong time can be consequential.

If you trimmed them too short, you could weaken the plant. You should also refrain from cutting the foliage after the main flowering has finished during the early summer.

The extra foliage helps with photosynthesis and allows the plant to store food for good growth in the coming year. 

If you cut your daylilies too early, you will disrupt the food supply. Without proper nutrition, the roots will be unable to get ready for surviving the colder months.

This will severely impact the growth and health of the bloom during the next spring and summer.

Read: How Long Do Daylilies Bloom?

How to Properly Cut Back Daylilies

There are generally two ways to cut back daylilies: for regular maintenance (cleanup) and seasonal maintenance. As with most things, there is a specific way to cut them back, depending on the needed care.

Regular Maintenance: Haircut

The technical terms for this are deadheading and dead-leaf pruning of the daylily.

Regular daylily maintenance is done to keep your plant looking as lovely as possible. You remove the dead flowers by hand if they do not fall on their own.

Once a stalk has completely blossomed, using your pruning shears cut the stalk off as near to the base of the plant as you can. Also, remove any dead foliage. This helps with seasonal maintenance as well. 

Seasonal Maintenance: Dealing with New Growth

At the end of the blooming season, you need to cut back your daylilies in order to promote new growth next season. You want to separate the root clumps and cut them back to around 6″ inches tall.

This keeps them from spreading too much and allows you to control the landscape more easily. 

Wrapping Up

Luckily, day lilies are perennial plants, meaning they rebloom every season. In order to ensure that your plant grows properly and is provided with enough nutrition, cutting them back, removing the dead leaves and stems at the correct time is very important.

Always do the proper research and buy the right tools before embarking on a new botanical or plant maintenance project.

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