Hemerocallis dumortieri

Hemerocallis dumortieri – the earliest flowering daylily

Hemerocallis dumortieri is the earliest flowering daylily in my garden and for this reason alone it deserves our attention.

Hemerocallis dumortieri
Hemerocallis dumortieri

Daylilies are deservedly popular as they are easily grown perennials that flower over a long summer season. In America their popularity has reached epidemic proportions with a preference for large flowered cultivars in many colours which deviate from the original yellows and oranges of the species. In Europe tastes differ and whilst unusual colours fascinate us, it is the smaller flowered forms with grasslike foliage that appeal most. This is my preference as these smaller flowered cultivars look far more natural within my style of perennial meadows.

One of the most popular cultivars in the Netherlands has been ‘Corky’ with simple light yellow flowers held clear of its fine grassy foliage. Last year when writing “Perennial Meadows” I chose to include a very similar cultivar “Golden Chimes” in one of the schemes I was describing and needed to photograph it. In my opinion “Golden Chimes” is slightly taller growing and I like the dark backs to its flower petals. On visiting a specialist nursery the only plants I was able to purchase showed little sign of flowering and the owner gave me a tip. I took a plant of Hemerocallis dumortieri with flowers “nobody other than an expert would be able to tell apart from my goal”. She was right, I got a representative photo and “Golden Chimes” didn’t flower!

Hemerocallis dumortieri
Hemerocallis dumortieri

Rolling forward a year, it is now late spring in the Netherlands and what a surprise, Hemerocallis dumortieri is in full flower and has been for over a week. This is not a big plant; 60 cm. (2 feet) tall with dark red flower buds and glowing clear yellow flowers. The foliage is upright, mid green in colour and not course. Now this is something very interesting. I can think of many ways of using a typical daylily in my garden and as a component theme plant in a perennial meadow, but a wild species daylily that flowers so much earlier than the others and which is a neat and elegant garden plant has to be taken seriously.

Looking around my garden at this time, in a season that seems to be earlier than normal, my tulips (apart from Tulipa sprengeri) have finished, the purple alliums are waning apart from A. ‘Globemaster’ and white A. ‘Mount Everest’, the wisteria has let its flowers fall but the Laburnum is still a fresh yellow fountain and most of the roses are coming on line, finding a setting for my new glowing-yellow daylily will need careful consideration.

The other important things to know about daylilies is that they begin growing early and by the time that the tulips are at their peak this perennial’s foliage can be very effective. Their foliage colour can vary from green to almost pure yellow and as such can play a role in a colour theme, they cloth the ground and eventually help cover up the dying tulip foliage – all good points in their favor.

As things stand Hemerocallis dumortieri is still under assesmant but I have already two possible uses in mind. I am developing a scheme using molinia grasses, this daylily would fit in well. More likely I will be adding it to an exciting scheme that seems to be coming together nicely. It is a scheme dominated by a large umbellifer – Cenolophium deudatum – in early summer and later by grasses and yellow daisy-type flowers. At the moment it is looking very green and I have been thinking of adding Allium ‘Globemaster’ to take it up to the point when the umbel flowers, but now, maybe, Hemerocallis dumortieri could serve the same function and at the same time added to the grassy meadow look I am trying to develop.

Much will depend upon how long this species daylily flowers for and how it comes through the summer, but for now, I am very glad I have stumbled up Hemerocallis dumortieri.

4 thoughts on “Hemerocallis dumortieri – the earliest flowering daylily”

  1. Yes, it’s a very nice species. It flowers in june here in Sweden, togerther with Iris sibirica, which it matches nicely:
    For some reason, probably tradition, the most common species here is H. flava, but it is not as nice as H. dumortieri I think.
    ‘Corky’ is popular here too and it resembles dumortieri a lot, but I think ‘Corky’ is a bit mor slender in appearance, maybe longer blooming too.

    1. Yes Lars,
      Corky is one of the best – very long flowering, the flowers are not too large and the colour is paler.

  2. Very beautiful flowers, but also a potential alternative edible plant (if a bit expensive).
    See here for more info:
    Hemerocallis dumortieri
    A very early flowering daylily with golden yellow flowers – excellent eating.
    and also:
    One of the great flavour experiences of the garden – the plant produces a succession of flowers but each blossom only lasts a day, so you can their ephemeral presence and pick them late in the day (before they wilt)…

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