“What is the difference between evergreen and dormant daylililes?” 

Oh boy. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that question…

There IS a difference between evergreen and dormant daylilies and it’s NOT just about the foliage. Depending on where you live, the type of daylily you choose may mean the difference between a successful bloom season– or one that isn’t.

Basically, evergreen daylilies grow foliage all year long. They still only flower during bloom season– you won’t get daylilies throughout the year– but, if you live in an area that doesn’t get freezing weather, they will probably keep their leaves all year. If you live in a colder area, evergreen daylilies will still grow but their foliage will be bitten back in the winter. If you’ve ever seen winter damaged daylily foliage, you know that doesn’t look too pretty.


When people tell us they live in Southern California and need a daylily that can look good and take the heat, this is the first one we suggest. Clear lemon yellow and simply gorgeous, ‘Lemon Vista’ is a top performer no matter where you live.

A dormant daylily is one that needs a respite from the blooming season. In other words, they like to take a winter nap. A dormant daylily planted in a zone without a cold period may look great for a year or two. After that, the constant growth and bloom cycle will eventually become too much for them. They will wear themselves out and stop blooming. You’ve heard the phrase “no rest for the weary?” That’s a very real conundrum for ill-placed perennials in zones without a dormant period.


Dormant daylilies, like ‘Cherry Cheeks’ pictured here, tend to disappear in the colder months and reemerge in spring.

So what does all that mean? If you want to find out what daylilies grow best in your area, here is the short-and-sweet version of what you need to know:

  • If you live in an area that doesn’t get a cold period in the winter (like a zone 9 or 10), you’ll want to stick with evergreen or semi-evergreen varieties (semi-evergreens are somewhere in between dormants and evergreens).
  • Everywhere else, you can grow all daylilies regardless of foliage type.

Pretty simple, huh? (but oh so important!)


Ken Oakes and I made a video that discusses this topic in a bit more detail. If  you want to see it,  visit our  YouTube channel at Oakes Daylilies, or just click this link to go straight to it.

And, hey! Thanks for reading!