Orange day-lily – info, planting, care and tips

Orange day-lily (Hemerocallis fulva)
Orange day-lily (Hemerocallis fulva)

With the orange day-lily you bring a grateful wild perennial into the garden, which feels especially welcome at the edge of the water and wood. Here are tips for planting and care.

Profile of orange day-lily:

Scientific name: Hemerocallis fulva

Plant family: blackboy family (Xanthorrhoeaceae) and to the subfamily of daylily (Hemerocallidoideae)

Other names: tawny daylily, corn lily, tiger daylily, fulvous daylily, ditch lily, railroad daylily, roadside daylily, outhouse lily, wash-house lily

Sowing time: spring

Planting time: spring or autumn

Flowering period: June to July

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich, tolerates lime

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, single position, group planting, pond planting, borders, flower garden, park area, prairie garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-34 °C / -25 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of orange day-lily

Plant order, origin and occurrence of orange day-lily

The actual home of the orange day-lily (Hemerocallis fulva) is in Japan, China and Korea, but it is now naturalized in Europe and also overgrown in North America. In earlier times, when the railroad gates still had to be operated by hand, many gatekeeper planted blossomy flower beds next to their shelter. From there, Hemerocallis fulva overgrown and conquered the railway embankments, which their name “railroad daylily” reminds of. Sometimes the species is also offered as a tawny daylily, which is due to the different interpretation of its flower color. In East Asia, all parts of the plant are considered edible and are used in the preparation of food. Their firm sheets are used to make ropes and shoes. Its importance as a medicinal plant is also worth mentioning. In China, it is cultivated on a large scale in order to extract its flowers and rhizomes as a remedy for Traditional Chinese medicine. Hemerocallis fulva belongs to the blackboy family (Xanthorrhoeaceae) and to the subfamily of daylily (Hemerocallidoideae).

Characteristics of orange day-lily


The orange day-lily is a long-lived perennial, the leaves and flower shoots of which sprout from a rhizome lying in the ground. Over time, it forms stately clumps that reach 80 to 120 centimeters (32 to 48 in) in height and 80 centimeters (32 in) in width.


The sword-shaped, basal leaves of the orange day-lily form an arched, sloping leaf clump. They are 1 to 3 centimeters wide (0.4 to 1.2 in), up to 150 centimeters (60 in) long and are colored yellow-green.


Like all daylilies, the single flower of the orange day-lily usually only lives for one day, but since new flowers are constantly growing, the flowering period lasts about six weeks between June and July. The funnel-shaped bell-like flowers stand together in loose clusters on tall stems. Their round flower stems are hollow. The brownish-red flowers are yellow inside and have an equally colored, yellow central stripe with stamens protruding from the calyx. Daylilies are often visited by insects.


After pollination, Hemerocallis fulva develops three-chamber capsule fruits that contain the seeds.

Flower of orange day-lily
Flower of orange day-lily

Orange day-lily – cultivation and care


Like all daylilies, the orange day-lily prefers a sunny to partially shaded location.


A regular, fresh to moist garden soil is optimal for the day lily to thrive. However, it should not be too dry or waterlogged.


Like all perennials, the best time to plant orange day-lily is in spring or autumn. To give the best starting conditions, loosen the soil beforehand and mix in some compost. The roots may sit without any problems a few centimeters (about 2 in) below ground level. Because of their expansive growth, you should leave 70 centimeters (28 in) planting distance. Two plants are planted per square meter (10 sq ft.).


Hemerocallis fulva can easily be propagated from seeds. To do this, sow the seeds in seed trays in the spring and only cover them lightly with soil. Be sure to ensure even moisture. This daylily can also be propagated by division, but it takes two to three years for the perennials to regain their full vigor.

A division of the orange day-lily is only necessary if it becomes too extensive or for propagating. The best time to do this is in spring or after flowering in summer.

Care / Watering / Fertilization

After planting and in persistent drought, the orange day-lily should be watered thoroughly. Annual composting in spring supports flowering. At the latest in spring before new shoots appear, the old withered leaves should be removed.

Diseases and pests

The occasionally occurring pests include aphids and caterpillars, snails especially like tender young plants.


The orange day-lily is hardy down to -34 °C / -25 °F.

Use of orange day-lily

In the garden

The orange day-lily can be planted individually or in small groups on the edge of water or on the edge of wood. It also turns heads in beds as a leading plant. Suitable flowering partners near the water are meadowsweet, iris and loosestrife, in the penumbra there are harmonious images with bluebells and meadow-rue.


The variety Hemerocallis fulva ‘Kwanso’, which is characterized by double flowers with orange inside, originated in East Asia as early as the 19th century.

In the kitchen

The orange day-lily is a real delicacy. In East Asia, both are grown as food.

The entire orange day-lily, except for the stem, can be used:

  • Thicker roots can be peeled like potatoes and taste similar to chestnuts; however, they have a laxative effect when overdosed
  • Young leaf sprout taste raw sweet, cooked like asparagus.
  • The leaves are suitable for salad or in soups. In addition to vitamins A and C, they also contain iron
  • Flower buds are eaten as fruits, also cooked or fried in oil
  • Fresh flowers are used raw as a colorful, fruity salad additive, dried as a soup and seasoning
  • The seeds can also be used crushed in soups

As a medicinal plant

In China, the flower of the orange day-lily is used in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for insomnia, the rhizome as a remedy for tuberculosis and filariasis.

In Korea, eating the root serves as a remedy for constipation and pneumonia. The root juice is administered for arsenic poisoning and cancer. The root tea is said to be diuretic.

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