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I know I should transplant spring bulbs in the fall.. but I didn't. There are a bunch of day lilies in the ditch down the road and I'm wondering if I can transplant them right now?

Surely the worst that could happen is that I don't get very vigeroius growth until next year, right? If the alternative is waiting till this fall to transplant, then why not do it now?

  • Day lilies are not really bulbs, so they don't really need to be treated as bulbs do. – Ecnerwal Apr 2 '16 at 20:30
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From the daylilies faq

When is the right time to plant daylilies?

North

In the North, spring planting is normally preferred. Fall planting in colder climates can prove fatal for daylilies because they often do not have adequate time to form new roots and to begin to anchor themselves before winter comes. Experienced gardeners, however, can plant in the fall provided they:

  • Know the hardiness of the plants
  • Take some preventative measures such as mulching.
  • Learn the time of the year after which it is not safe to plant in their location

South

In the far South, early spring or very late fall are the most desirable planting times. Please be aware that daylilies planted in July, August, or September when temperatures and humidity are extremely high (i.e., over 90°), face a high probability of rotting.

4

Daylilies are not bulbs - older types produce rhizomes, more modern hybrids don't necessarily, and the roots are quite fragile. The important thing when digging up and splitting a daylily is to ensure each division has roots, part of the crown and some foliage - the crown lies between the roots and the upper parts. That said, if you wanted to dig up and divide now in your garden, and you currently have cool spring weather, I'd say go ahead and try - but I'm not sure about the legality of digging out a clump on public land - it would be illegal to do so in the UK.

  • ...Or depending where that ditch is, someone else's private land. My parents had some land on the main road in a rather touristy area and suffered a great deal of plant theft from the beds near the road. – Ecnerwal Apr 2 '16 at 20:33
  • Fair point about property rights, but have no fear, this ditch is a neighbor's hay field and they've given me permission already. – doub1ejack Apr 4 '16 at 1:37
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I haven't had much trouble thinning and spreading daylilies just dig them up move them to where you want them, divide them into clumps of 3-5 plants... if they are a in a good new home they should flourish, and if the new home isn't great... they should still do pretty good... I suspect that there are some that like more or less sun and more or less water, but in generally they are a very hardy bunch of plants.

even if things aren't perfect the plants should live, even if you don't get a great flowery show this year, you probably will next year...

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