Using Ditch Lilies to Fill Spaces

April 19th, 2006

We have some bad neighbors, they don’t take any care of their house or lawn, they’re constantly being cited by our city’s ordinance enforcement department for things like having grass that is too long. No one on our block likes them, when we moved in we heard nothing but bad things about them from all our other neighbors. If they’d just move house values would go up I’m sure.

Anyways, their lack of yard care has resulting in a bumper crop of weeds. We have 3 large conifers in our backyard forming a border between our property and theirs. Before we had our privacy fence it was so obvious where all our weeds were coming from. There were 2 wide swathes of dandelions precisely where the trees weren’t. Meaning all the weed seeds were blowing over from their yard. There were literally two stripes of dandelions, I couldn’t ask for a better indication of where my weed problems were coming from.

In addition to our new privacy fence, I also have weed barriers in the forum of mulch, bushes, trees, fabric, or all of the above, running along my entire border with their property, except by the curb. You see our curb area, the area between the sidewalk and the road, is shared with them, and as such it’s really rather crappy, almost no grass, all weeds. I don’t see much point in trying to reclaim it with grass since I’ll only be able to do my side and the weed will creep back over. So I decided to use ditch lilies to fill it up.

Ditch lilies, also known as tawny daylilies, the common orange daylily, or the latin name of hemerocallis fulva are a form of daylily, but a different species than the typically hybridized daylilies you find. These things are crazy resistant to everything, they are like tanks of the flower world. Hardy to at least zone 4, these plants produce nice orange flowers in late spring. The really benefit of using them is that, like I said, they’re tanks. They’ll grow in sun, shade, drought, water. They’ll take poor soil, rich soil, sandy soil, salty soil, crappy city soil. They’re even hard to kill with pesticides, even Round Up won’t kill em.

They also have two other “features”. For one, they overpower any nearby plants, weeds, whatever. For two, they spread with underground runners and can cover quite an area, they also can come back if you leave just one bit of tuber in the ground.

As you can imagine it means that these plants are considered invasive in some areas of the country. Many gardeners have planted them only to be unable to get rid of them later. As such it is usually not recommended that you plant these in the midst of other perennials, or anywhere that you do not want them to spread.

However, these plants are perfect when you want it to spread, fill up a large defined area, and do it cheaply. They’re so prolific they’re sometimes used to control erosion even. You can buy them for usually less than a buck each if you get them in bulk. I’ve seen daylily farms offer them for 50 cents each, I’ve seen them on ebay for 30 cents each . If you know someone who has them they’ll typically give you all you want for free.

So, my plan is to plant various clumps of ditch lilies in my margin area there, let them overpower the weeds, and give passing motorists a nice orange show in late Spring.

13 Responses to “Using Ditch Lilies to Fill Spaces”

  1. Pam  Says:

    Boy do I know what you mean about neighbors with weedy yards. I had one of those neighbors a few years ago. Their neglected yard was full of Foxtails. My dog got one lodged up her nose that had to be surgically removed. Good luck with your Ditch Lilly’s.

  2. Hanna, Gardening in Cleveland, Ohio  Says:

    Ditch lilies also make a great option for, well, ditches. In rural areas where the ditches are up to several feet deep, ditch lilies are a great way to fill the ditch and keep down the weeds so you don’t have to mow those deep ditches. And because they come back from just a few tubers, when the township re-digs the ditches, the ditch lilies will come back.

    The tubers are also edible. When I was a kid, we use to dig up the tubers and bake them tossed in butter. Yum!

  3. cindy gillmor  Says:

    Can anyone tell me if these ditch lilies can be blamed for blocking up the water in a ditch(in the spring before they have even started to sprout) and cause the neighbors to have water in their basement-a home sever hundred feet away from the ditch we have running along our property & the road? They have complained to the town siting this as the cause of their problems & we now have to remove them. would love to hear from anyone who is a drainage expert for this sounds ludacrous to anyone we’ve mentioned this to. This ditch is also bone dry during the summer & fall & really may have a couple of inches in the spring if we get an early thaw.

  4. Tina  Says:

    Help, I live in Southeast AZ. I would love to find a place, or someone to buy ditch lilies from?

  5. Polly  Says:

    Those common orange daylilies can also be eaten! The bud (before the plant flowers) is edible raw. And it’s quite tasty.

  6. Diane  Says:

    Hi Tina did you ever find the ditch lilies you were looking for? Enjoy your evening.

  7. Paul  Says:

    I planted these orange guys in a very difficult area. It was overgrown with weeds and buck thrown. Now the area is a beautiful orange meadow thanks to these tanks.

  8. Maria S  Says:

    Do they bloom all summer long or only in late spring?

  9. Rob  Says:

    These beautiful lilies are really great to have around – especially for people that aren’t necessarily into keeping up a flower garden. I just took some from my neighbor, and I’m hoping they take to their new home. We live in suburban Detroit and I see these everywhere.

  10. linda dougherty  Says:

    is there a way to harvest seeds from ditch lily

  11. Administrator  Says:

    ditch lilies are sterile and only reproduce vegetatively through rhizome expansion.

  12. LAUREN BOPP  Says:

    Can they be mowed down before winter snow? And will they come back up again. I live in zone 5.

  13. Administrator  Says:

    Yes I always mowed mine in fall

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