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Unique Daylilies

By: Stephanie Petersen
You can't go wrong with daylilies for easy summer color. These 8 unique daylilies may just surprise you with their unusual features and colors!

Daylilies are easy-to-grow perennials

Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp. and hybrids) are some of the easiest perennials you can grow. But if you think they’re overused and passé, think again! With thousands of varieties (and counting), there’s bound to be a tantalizing option or two. You can find a rainbow of colors, many with unique flower forms, and even ones that are really tall or super small.

Daylilies are perfect for novice gardeners and green thumbs alike and grow well in any well-drained soil. And if you want, you can have some flowering from late spring through fall by choosing early, mid- and late-season bloomers, as well as rebloomers. I hope these beautiful varieties will inspire you to seek out some unusual, unique daylilies for a full sun to part shade spot in your garden.

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Anatomy of a daylily illustration Garden Gate Magazine

Anatomy of a daylily

A typical daylily flower has six segments. Only the top three segments are actually petals. The second layer is considered sepals. This will help you better understand some of the definitions outlined in “Daylily terms” below. The endless characteristics of a daylily are like the cuts of a diamond — lots of beautiful parts make one shining plant.

daylily-terminology-reference-graphic: A) ‘Siloam Double Classic’ daylily; 
B)‘Wild and Wonderful’ daylily ; C) ‘Blackthorne’ daylily; D) ‘Malaysian Marketplace’ daylily

Daylily terminology

Check out the images above for reference to some of the daylily terms we have outlined below.

Daylily flower forms

  • Single daylily Three petals and three sepals
  • Double daylily More than one whorl of petals and sepals or peonylike outgrowth (See photo A above)
  • Spider petals Petals that are much longer than they are wide
  • Polymerous More than the normal number of segments in each floral whorl (See photo B above)
  • Unusual form Distinctive petal or sepal shapes, affecting the form of the flower in a unique way

Daylily color markings

  • Band A coloring that does not show on the sepals
  • Bicolor Petals are a different and darker color than the sepals
  • Bitone Petals are a darker shade than the sepals
  • Blend Petals and sepals are two or more colors
  • Diamond dusting The flower reflects light as if it is sparkling
  • Dotted/dusted The surface color is unevenly distributed over the background color
  • Edged/picoteed The edges of the flower segments are a different color
  • Eye A coloring that is on both the petals and the sepals, and is darker than the rest of the segments (See photo C above)
  • Eyezone Zone of color above the throat
  • Halo An eye that is very narrow or indistinct and shows on both the petals and sepals
  • Midrib The center vein that runs through each petal and sepal; it can be a different color
  • Polychrome Petals and sepals have intermingling of three or more colors
  • Self Petals and sepals are all the same color
  • Tipped The tips of the flower are a different color
  • Watermark An eye that is a lighter color than everything else on the segment (See photo D above)

Where to find unique daylilies

You can find unusual daylilies locally, but for those really out-of-the-ordinary ones, try the mail-order sources below. Take a look at “Anatomy of a daylily” above to familiarize yourself with some of the terms you’ll see when you’re choosing cultivars.

Mail-order sources for unique daylilies

8 unique daylilies for your garden

Golden Zebra daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Golden Zebra daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Have you ever seen variegated foliage on a daylily? Midseason bloomer Golden Zebra® has attractive dark yellow flowers, but as you can see in the photo above, the leaves steal the show. Although this is a relatively new cultivar, the variegation is stable, so it won’t revert back to all-green leaves, which can happen on some variegated plants. The wider-than-usual leaves are long and arching. They start the season green with creamy white margins that turn yellow later on. Golden Zebra is compact and holds its flowers close to the plant, making it perfect for the front of the border or as a hedge. Plant it so it will have afternoon shade where summers are particularly hot.

Type Perennial Blooms 3-in. dark yellow flowers in summer Size 15 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 11

‘Marque Moon’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Marque Moon’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Nearly white petals and pie crust or picotee edges are two stand-out traits on ‘Marque Moon’. On a sunny day, you’ll see why this one is really special: It glistens. Some daylilies have this glitterlike quality on their petals. When the sparkles are white, it’s referred to as “diamond dusted.” Some yellow-flowering cultivars have this, too, but it’s a more gold-colored shine, so those are said to be “gold dusted.” Be sure to plant it where you can easily see these unique details and catch a whiff of its sweet fragrance in mid- to late season, too.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. creamy white flowers with yellow throat and edges in summer Size 20 to 24 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Siloam Double Classic’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Siloam Double Classic’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

As the name implies, this daylily is a double, which simply means the flowers have extra petals. It’s an exquisite flower to see in bloom. Winner of the Stout Silver Medal, which is the most prestigious award given to a cultivar by the American Hemerocallis Society, ‘Siloam Double Classic’ is a favorite of many gardeners. You may occasionally find a single flower on the plant, but mostly you’ll have a long season of ruffled double blooms. Try this vigorous early to midseason bloomer at the front of a perennial flower border.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. fragrant peach-pink double flowers in summer Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 9 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

'Bitsy' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

'Bitsy' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Extra early and super small, ‘Bitsy’ is a miniature daylily that is also an early-season daylily and one of the first to bloom. Since it’s a rebloomer, its long show continues until frost. It sets tons of charming lemon-yellow 2-in. flowers held high above the small clump of foliage, which grows only about a foot tall. Plant ‘Bitsy’ at the front of the border or in a container on your patio.

Type Perennial Blooms 2-in. lemon-yellow flowers in summer Size 12 to 20 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Peacock Maiden’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Peacock Maiden’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

If you want bold, extra-large flowers, then look no further than this midseason beauty. ‘Peacock Maiden’ has rich purple blooms that are up to 10 in. across. This crispate form daylily flower has pinched and reflexed petals. Some sources refer to it as a “spider” type, since its long narrow petals are much longer than they are wide. White midribs give the flower a starlike appearance. Not all daylilies are fragrant, but ‘Peacock Maiden’ has a light scent. And it’s a rebloomer. Just deadhead the spent flowers and cut stems back as soon as they’re done. Then apply a water-soluble bloom-booster fertilizer, such as 15-30-15, to encourage another flush of flowers.

Type Perennial Blooms 10-in. purple flowers with creamy white midrib and green throat in summer Size 30 to 36 in. tall, 24 to 30 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Chicago Bountiful’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Chicago Bountiful’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Do you have a lot of pink and purple flowers in your garden? ‘Chicago Bountiful’ is a daylily that would fit in nicely. The yellow throat color pops, especially if you combine it with other yellow flowers or chartreuse foliage. You may notice that it has a trait that’s common in a lot of the newer daylily hybrids. Take a look at the darker purple stripe that surrounds the throat. This stripe in the eye zone is considered “banded” because the ring of color is only on the petals. If it was also on the sepals, then it would be classified as “eyed.” 'Chicago Bountiful' blooms in early to midseason.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. light purple flowers with darker purple band and yellow-green throat in summer Size 16 to 20 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

‘Challenger’ daylily  (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Challenger’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Challenger’ is an extra-tall mid- to late-season daylily. With scapes up to 6 ft. high, the brick-red spider flowers are held high in the middle or back of the border. ‘Challenger’ will provide you with lots of flowers that stay open a few hours longer than many daylilies. That’s an important feature since a bloom is usually only open from morning to evening.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. brick-red flowers with a yellow-orange throat in summer Size 48 to 72 in. tall, 30 to 40 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10

'Star Bright' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

'Star Bright' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

This spiderlike daylily’s petal and sepal formation is categorized as an unusual form, often called a “UFO” for short. There are three types of UFOs: cascade, spatulate and crispate forms. The petals of cascades fall below the flower throat, where spatulates’ petals widen at the tips, like a spoon. Crispates can have a multitude of petal traits, including pinching, quilling or twisting, just to name a few. ‘Star Bright’ is a crispate form, with curling, hooking and reflexing, or curved back, petals. It blooms in early to midseason.

Type Perennial Blooms 8-in. apricot flowers with violet and red eye zone and pale green throat in summer Size 32 to 40 in. tall, 24 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 4 to 9

Golden Zebra daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Golden Zebra daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Have you ever seen variegated foliage on a daylily? Midseason bloomer Golden Zebra® has attractive dark yellow flowers, but as you can see in the photo above, the leaves steal the show. Although this is a relatively new cultivar, the variegation is stable, so it won’t revert back to all-green leaves, which can happen on some variegated plants. The wider-than-usual leaves are long and arching. They start the season green with creamy white margins that turn yellow later on. Golden Zebra is compact and holds its flowers close to the plant, making it perfect for the front of the border or as a hedge. Plant it so it will have afternoon shade where summers are particularly hot.

Type Perennial Blooms 3-in. dark yellow flowers in summer Size 15 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 11

‘Peacock Maiden’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Peacock Maiden’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

If you want bold, extra-large flowers, then look no further than this midseason beauty. ‘Peacock Maiden’ has rich purple blooms that are up to 10 in. across. This crispate form daylily flower has pinched and reflexed petals. Some sources refer to it as a “spider” type, since its long narrow petals are much longer than they are wide. White midribs give the flower a starlike appearance. Not all daylilies are fragrant, but ‘Peacock Maiden’ has a light scent. And it’s a rebloomer. Just deadhead the spent flowers and cut stems back as soon as they’re done. Then apply a water-soluble bloom-booster fertilizer, such as 15-30-15, to encourage another flush of flowers.

Type Perennial Blooms 10-in. purple flowers with creamy white midrib and green throat in summer Size 30 to 36 in. tall, 24 to 30 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Marque Moon’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Marque Moon’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Nearly white petals and pie crust or picotee edges are two stand-out traits on ‘Marque Moon’. On a sunny day, you’ll see why this one is really special: It glistens. Some daylilies have this glitterlike quality on their petals. When the sparkles are white, it’s referred to as “diamond dusted.” Some yellow-flowering cultivars have this, too, but it’s a more gold-colored shine, so those are said to be “gold dusted.” Be sure to plant it where you can easily see these unique details and catch a whiff of its sweet fragrance in mid- to late season, too.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. creamy white flowers with yellow throat and edges in summer Size 20 to 24 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Chicago Bountiful’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Chicago Bountiful’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Do you have a lot of pink and purple flowers in your garden? ‘Chicago Bountiful’ is a daylily that would fit in nicely. The yellow throat color pops, especially if you combine it with other yellow flowers or chartreuse foliage. You may notice that it has a trait that’s common in a lot of the newer daylily hybrids. Take a look at the darker purple stripe that surrounds the throat. This stripe in the eye zone is considered “banded” because the ring of color is only on the petals. If it was also on the sepals, then it would be classified as “eyed.” 'Chicago Bountiful' blooms in early to midseason.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. light purple flowers with darker purple band and yellow-green throat in summer Size 16 to 20 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

‘Siloam Double Classic’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Siloam Double Classic’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

As the name implies, this daylily is a double, which simply means the flowers have extra petals. It’s an exquisite flower to see in bloom. Winner of the Stout Silver Medal, which is the most prestigious award given to a cultivar by the American Hemerocallis Society, ‘Siloam Double Classic’ is a favorite of many gardeners. You may occasionally find a single flower on the plant, but mostly you’ll have a long season of ruffled double blooms. Try this vigorous early to midseason bloomer at the front of a perennial flower border.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. fragrant peach-pink double flowers in summer Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 9 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Challenger’ daylily  (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Challenger’ daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

‘Challenger’ is an extra-tall mid- to late-season daylily. With scapes up to 6 ft. high, the brick-red spider flowers are held high in the middle or back of the border. ‘Challenger’ will provide you with lots of flowers that stay open a few hours longer than many daylilies. That’s an important feature since a bloom is usually only open from morning to evening.

Type Perennial Blooms 5-in. brick-red flowers with a yellow-orange throat in summer Size 48 to 72 in. tall, 30 to 40 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10

'Bitsy' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

'Bitsy' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Extra early and super small, ‘Bitsy’ is a miniature daylily that is also an early-season daylily and one of the first to bloom. Since it’s a rebloomer, its long show continues until frost. It sets tons of charming lemon-yellow 2-in. flowers held high above the small clump of foliage, which grows only about a foot tall. Plant ‘Bitsy’ at the front of the border or in a container on your patio.

Type Perennial Blooms 2-in. lemon-yellow flowers in summer Size 12 to 20 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

'Star Bright' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

'Star Bright' daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

This spiderlike daylily’s petal and sepal formation is categorized as an unusual form, often called a “UFO” for short. There are three types of UFOs: cascade, spatulate and crispate forms. The petals of cascades fall below the flower throat, where spatulates’ petals widen at the tips, like a spoon. Crispates can have a multitude of petal traits, including pinching, quilling or twisting, just to name a few. ‘Star Bright’ is a crispate form, with curling, hooking and reflexing, or curved back, petals. It blooms in early to midseason.

Type Perennial Blooms 8-in. apricot flowers with violet and red eye zone and pale green throat in summer Size 32 to 40 in. tall, 24 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 4 to 9

Published: April 17, 2018
Updated: Aug. 1, 2022
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