Q: I would like to try my hand at daylilies and need some advice.

A: You have picked a happy and generous perennial to try. My advice is: Go for it!

The first thing most of us picture when someone mentions daylilies is our grandmothers’ common single, orange daylilies blooming around old home places — even in ditches. But those happily fertile and prolific ancestors have produced, with a little help from man, thousands of combinations of color, shape and size, now available to the home gardener.

Modern daylilies range from frilly doubles to miniature forms, spider forms, those with picotee (contrasting color bands) petals and other striking variations. It is estimated between 300,000 and 500,000 new daylily varieties are grown each year in the United States alone. More than 50,000 varieties of daylilies are registered, with 1,650 new daylilies introduced into commerce each year. Rather overwhelming, isn’t it?

Daylilies are beautiful, low-maintenance perennial flowers with a long tradition in our gardens. They are a member of the Hemerocallis genus, which comes from the Greek words for “beauty” and “day.” In fact, most flowers do open for just one day, but what a lesson in enjoying the moment! Even better, there are now reblooming varieties. Most flowerscapes hold numerous buds opening in succession for weeks.

Colors include almost every tint of the rainbow except true blue and pure white. Daylilies range in height from 8 inches to 5 feet, with blooms from 2 inches to 8 inches and varieties available that bloom early season, midseason or late season to extend performance.

Most of the daylilies we see today are either diploid or tetraploid. The earliest daylilies were all diploids, which simply refers to a plant having two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent in each cell. Tetraploids have four sets of chromosomes from each parent in each cell, offering the variety of richer colors, new patterns, distinctive edges and eyes (ring at the top of the throat of the blossom), heavier texture, better sun, disease and insect resistance, and increased stamina. Our grandmother would be surprised to know today’s daylilies can be classified as dormant, semi-evergreen, or evergreen.

Daylilies can survive, even thrive, with little care. They adapt to a wide range of soil, water and light conditions and are relatively resistant to insects and diseases. Daylilies flower best with 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, but can perform in light, partial shade. Give them well-drained, porous, slightly acidic soil high in organic matter. They do not tolerate constantly wet feet so if your soil is heavy clay, consider constructing raised beds, incorporating organic matter to improve drainage. The best time to plant daylilies in our coastal zone 8 is early spring or very late fall.

Containerized daylilies can be removed from the pot and planted so the soil level is slightly higher than the surrounding soil in the bed. If you have divided plants, build a soil mound in the hole and spread the roots out over the mound, then backfill to the same level the plant originally grew in.

To plant bare-root plants, first trim off the top one-third of the leaves into a fan shape to reduce transplant stress, then proceed as you would with plant divisions. Most cultivars can be planted 18 inches apart. Daylilies will multiply for many years without much attention, but when they bloom only around the outside bed edge, divide them. Late fall or early spring is a good time here, and a garden fork is the best way to lift up a clump and divide it.

Although daylilies are very tolerant of dry conditions, they do need extra water when first planted until they become established, during extremely dry periods and during flowering. Mulching with pine straw, pine bark or leaves will conserve moisture and control weeds.

While daylilies are relatively pest- and disease-free, thrips, spider mites, aphids, slugs or snails may damage the plants. If these pests are present, choose an insecticide or organic control suitable for daylilies. If your plants develop rust, bronze-colored splotches on the leaf straps, use an appropriate fungicide.

You can find a wealth of information online at the website of the American Hemerocallis Society,daylilies.org/AHSFAQsNew.html. Once established and happy, daylilies will produce — and reproduce — for years to come. Sit back and enjoy the show.

You are invited to these upcoming gardening events

What: Mobile Master Gardeners Lunch & Learn
When: Monday, April 17, noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Jon Archer Center,
1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: Container Herb Gardens with Laurie Ibsen-Reeves

What: Mobile Master Gardeners monthly meeting
When: Thursday, May 11
Where: Jon Archer Center,
1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: Creating a Backyard Bird Habitat with Martha Terry