Ever wonder what the terms: evergreen, semi-evergreen and dormant (deciduous) refer to when viewing descriptions of daylilies? Although they are used in reference to the plant’s foliage behavior, they still have growers a bit confused. No need to be curious any longer as we will explain what they represent and why they are important when choosing which type is best for your climate zone.
Evergreen represents a daylily that continually produces leaves, does not form resting buds, and retains its foliage throughout the year. Dormant daylilies, on the other hand, form resting buds at the crown and its leaves completely die off during winter. Semi-evergreen is an in-between and was initially used when referring to plants that appear to be fairly evergreen in the southern growing areas and yet dies off in northern, colder regions.
Finding the right one for your geographical area is a problem when a gardener uses these identifiers as the sole reason for purchasing a daylily. Even though your plants are labeled according to their foliage behavior, these descriptions may not hold true to their names depending on your climate (hardiness) zone. It is important to know that cold hardiness is not determined by the foliage habit. Some daylily varieties are very hardy while others are considered extremely tender to cold temps. It is possible an evergreen appears to die off completely or go dormant, if grown in a colder area such as zone 5, whereas, warmer zones like 8 or 9 may not allow dormant varieties to have a resting phase which could result in fewer blooms during spring and summer months.
If you are uncertain of what type of foliage your plants have, wait until spring. Once the warmer seasons begin you may notice new growth from the ground indicating your daylily is of the dormant variety. If the existing leaves show new growth with pale to yellow tips or for several inches downward the probability is your plant is either a semi-green or evergreen.
With no guarantees on how your daylilies will behave during the colder months of the year in your region, try and purchase those varieties known to grow well in your area to help ensure your daylilies are healthy and thriving. If you find your hardiness zone is not ideal for your daylily variety there are numerous precautions a gardener can take prior to the arrival of winter to help protect your daylilies, such as mulching, taking them indoors or forcing dormancy if needed.