My first fifteen to twenty years with daylilies were spent mainly working with daylilies as landscape plantings rather than specimen plantings grown strictly for flowers. Though I grew a wide range of daylily types, I quickly found that only certain daylilies were actually what I would consider 'good plants', by which I mean landscape quality plants. To me, a landscape quality plant is a fast multiplier that recovers quickly from division and increases quickly but does not decrease its scape count as the plant matures and has beautiful foliage. Thus such plants can be frequently divided to create groupings and mass plantings that can be very beautiful in the landscape and can be accomplished fairly quickly, and without a massive monetary investment.
However, such plants are often overlooked in the daylily hobby and are not reliably-enough identified in the general home garden market. We often hear that daylilies make excellent ground covers, slope covers for erosion control, and xeriscaping plants, but not all daylilies successfully can fulfill those roles, which can make buying daylilies confusing and sometimes disappointing.
Over the years I have gravitated toward using simple flowered, species-form and more primitive cultivars in order to find just the right balance of vigor, flower display and beautiful foliage. However, in recent years, I have begun testing newer cultivars, both dips and tets, and have begun to locate a few that may have the extremely fine foliage and garden habit that can make a long-loved garden classic.
I wanted to show you some of the uses I have made of daylilies in my own landscape. As you can see, these daylily plantings are not just about the flower. They are important parts of my landscape year-round. The flower is an accent to the foliage, which is the primary landscape use for these plants. We frequently see short daylilies like Stella De Oro used in landscapes as borders or edging, but I like daylilies more as a backdrop and as a substitute for ornamental grasses. For that use, daylilies that are more robust in foliage and scapes are most appealing to me.