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. But, Daylilies need cutting back over time. 

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

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 stem back to ensure they do not look messy or ratty as time progresses.



The best time to consider cutting back daylily foliage is when 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 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, cut the leaves back to roughly six or seven inches, and then replant them after the heat of the summer dies down.

Moreover, the most suitable time to prune daylilies is before the winter frost season. But if you prune them in spring, don’t forget to mulch your plant.

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. It would be best if you 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: 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 plants.

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 to promote new growth next season. 

Cutting the flower stalk after all flower buds have bloomed and the blossoms fade is also important.

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.

To promote more blooms, you must also remove spent blooms during the growing season.

Wrapping Up

Luckily, daylilies are perennial plants, meaning they rebloom every season. 

To ensure that your plant grows properly and has enough nutrition, cutting them back and removing the yellow, dead leaves and stems at the correct time is very important.

Removing the dead foliage and cutting back your day lilies is recommended to discourage habitat for pests like slugs. 

Moreover, deadheading daylilies will help keep your plant healthy and better looking.

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

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