Repeat after me: A lily is not a daylily. A daylily is not a lily.
While common flower names are a lot easier (and more fun!) to remember than the scientific names, they can be quite confusing. It’s no wonder the daylily and the lily are often mistaken to be the same flower. A daylily isn’t a type of lily. In fact, as any educated gardener or flower enthusiast will tell you, they don’t even belong to the same family. Even though these two attractive flowers look similar, they are as different as dahlias and zinnias.
Here’s a look at the two flowers:
Differences between the daylily and the lily:
- Classification: True lilies belong to the Illium family; daylilies belong to the Hemerorcallis family. There are about 100 varieties of lilies, while there are over 60 000 daylily varieties!
- Flower: The lily always has 6 petals; while the daylily has 2 layers of 3 petals (the top layer contains the petals, while the bottom layer are the sepals, the petal-like leaves).
- Foliage: One of the easiest ways to tell the two plants apart is to look at their leaves. On the lily, leaves are grown along its entire central stem in whorls or spirals. Lilies can grow to a height of 10ft tall! Daylilies have long, flat grass-like leaves that grows in clumps. They can grow to be 4ft tall.
- Bloom Times: Lilies make beautiful cut flowers; they can last a week or more. Meanwhile, the daylily has a short blooming period. In fact, it was named so because the flower only lasts for a day. But because it has multiple blooms, it will flower continuously (once one flower has died, another one will open up). For this reason, daylilies aren’t commonly used as cut flowers.
- How they are grown: True lilies grow from scaly, pinecone-like bulbs that have roots at the bottom. Daylilies are easily divided and grow from thick fleshy, tubers known as rhizomes.
- Other: Asiatic and Oriental lilies are in the Illium (lily) family. Daylily blossoms are edible, while all parts of the lily are toxic, especially to cats.
As you can see the two flowers are very different. So the next time someone calls a daylily a lily, you can politely correct them.