Gardeners: How do I rid myself of these ugly orange lilies?

We’ve got this line of orange lilies in our front yard. I’ve never liked them. Is now a good time to dig up the bulbs (they come from bulbs right?) Are there any special caveats to be aware of doing this digging?

I’m in North Carolina, so frozen ground isn’t a problem.

Are these bulbs the kind of things someone else might want? Like if I put a freebie ad in our local penny trader…“Free lily bulbs. Orange.” , would anybody call? I hate for things to go to waste. I just don’t like them myself.


It depends on what kind of “lilies” they are.

If they look like this and this–with the flowers on the end of long, naked, flexible, rather sagging stems rising out of 12" high clumps of long narrow floppy green leaves–then they’re daylilies. Daylilies aren’t really “lilies”, and don’t grow from bulbs (they grow from rhizomes), but some of the more exciting daylily colors (besides the standard “orange” and “yellow” and “orange with dark red”) are considered fairly interesting by Gardening Persons. But if they’re just “orange”, then they’re almost certainly the very standard, very boring common daylily, the same plant that grows along roadsides all over the U.S., and only someone who’s looking for free ground cover to deal with an eroding bank will be interested in them.

If they look like this this or this–a bunch of tall stiff stems with small leaves all the way up the stems, with flowers at the tip of the stem–then they’re “lily” lilies. Orange lilies, while frequently lumped together colloquially as “tiger lilies”, can actually be any one of a number of separate species. And yes, Gardening Persons would be interested in them if they’re “lily” lilies.

If they’re daylilies, and someone wants them, the best time to dig them up will be starting in the spring, when the soil warms up enough so that their roots can have a decent chance of repairing the damage done by spading. I’d wait till April, for NC. And you can actually dig and transplant daylilies any time during the summer, as long as you make sure they’re kept watered and it’s not the middle of an atrocious heat wave.

If they’re “lily” lilies, they’re trickier to transplant, since the bulbs never really go dormant the way tulip and daffodil bulbs do, and you’d be better off letting the person who wants them come and dig them. That way it’s not your fault if they die after being transplanted. Usually lilies are dug in the fall after the top growth has died down, like October/November.

If you an ad in the paper that says, “Free lily bulbs. Orange”, the Gardening Person who responds is going to expect “lily” lilies, and will be mighty P.O.'ed to drive all the way across town to find plain old orange daylilies that you can find growing along roadsides all over the U.S. So find out what you’ve got first.

Oh,and, if you don’t like them and just want them out of there, feel free to dig them up anytime. Give a muscular teenager a shovel and 20 bucks, and get out of the way.

That’s right, and make sure the kid isn’t chewing sunflower seeds. That’s a whole 'nother thread. :wink:

Thanks for the infoDuck. They’re definitely the daylilies. The words “standard”, “ordinary” and “boring” apply.


Well, then, like I said, your only chance to get them adopted would be if someone was desperate for free ground cover, or maybe some young hopeful who doesn’t know yet that they’re standard, ordinary, and boring. If the ad’s free, I’d go ahead and give it a try–you never know what people will go for if it’s free. And, I’d stipulate that they should dig them themselves–why should you put your back out?

“Free–20-Foot Long Flowerbed of Orange Daylilies–Dig Them Yourself.” With the estimate of how long the flowerbed is, because someone who’s trying to cover a bank with them will want to know how many plants we’re talking about here.

Be sure you make it clear to folks on the phone who call for directions that they’re the plain orange ones, because you’ll get daylily collectors who are always hopeful of finding some exotic collectible color cultivar being given away by clueless people who don’t realize what a treasure they really have.

Somebody who is planting a “naturalistic,” wildflower or “antique” garden in a historical location might want them. Hemerocallis fulva, a.k.a. the “tawny daylily,” is an early European import that has naturalized as a wildflower in the east.

Because in many places it would not be legal to dig wildflowers from the roadside, they can be rather hard to come by because most nurseries and catalog companies carry the fancy hybrid type.

Yeah, they’re old, common and boring, but they have their uses.

Furthermore, your local garden club may do a plant exchange at regular intervals. For instance, in Tally, the garden club sponsors a free plant exchange at a local community college. You can bring plants if you want, but mostly they’re from people who have a yardful of boring standard daylilies (or whatever plant is way to common in your area). Dig 'em up and give 'em away to people who are looking exactly for those orange boring standard daylilies, and take what you want and like off the table to replace the big hole of dirt you left.

Check your local listings for a garden club in your area and call them to find out if they do plant exchanges, or perhaps you can just drop a truckload off and the garden club will decide what to do with them. If your garden clubs are anything like ours, don’t expect them to do any digging for you – most of the members will be your gramma’s age.