How to “correct” daylily colour




Hello! Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question here! If you have a few moments, I have a burning question that I have been trying to resolve this summer! If I amend the soil in my garden, can I change the colour of my daylily blooms?

The reason I ask is that my Malaysian Monarch did not bloom with such an intense violet purple/lime green throat as I have seen pictured on the Internet (e.g., and I would love to see it do that! My Malaysian Monarch just bloomed for the second time (third week of July, 2014) (just planted a month ago) in Toronto, Ontario in nice triple mix soil with a neutral ph level (7-ish), in an area of the garden receiving full sun for perhaps six hours a day. I was so disappointed to see it bloom reddish-burgundy! The plant came from a local grower here in Toronto (Arcadian Daylilies).

The plant has bloomed twice now, under different conditions. The first time it bloomed, the temperature had been hot during the days this summer (up to 27-28 degrees Celsius/80-82 degrees Fahrenheit) and cooler in the evenings, with some intermittent cool days. I am including a photo (MalaysianMonarch.jpeg) for this first bloom. As you can see, the colour was a muddy reddish-burgundy.

At this point, I did some reading. I read that bloom colour corresponds to nitrogen and potassium levels in some other flowers (e.g., chrysanthemums, as per a study by Joiner & Smith (1960) published in the Florida State Horticultural Society journal), for example at the lowest Nitrogen and Potassium levels, the colour of the blooms is the lightest. I haven’t been able to find any reference to this anywhere on the web with resepct to daylilies. Could this be a factor for daylilies just like chrysanthemums? I understand from the article that nutrient deficiencies, especially nitrogen, are associated with increased anthocyanin in the plant tissues as well as the depletion of carbohydrates during summer heat waves….

I then decided to try an experiment with the soil. I took the ph level of the soil, which was around 7. I added some aluminum sulphate in dry form to the soil. (Bad science but I also applied blood meal (12-0-0, a good nitrogen source) to the soil around the plant.) We had quite a bit of rain the the subsequent few days and so I think this all probably leached nicely into the plant root area.

Here is a photo of the Malaysian Monarch five days later. I think the bloom shows more “purple” but it is still reddish-burgundy.

I also have been wondering the same thing about the colours of my Above the Salt daylilies which have bloomed more yellow than white. (I did the same nitrogen and aluminum sulphate treatment as with the Malaysian Monarchs to the Above the Salt). Here is the same before and after imaging of these plants.

It is hard to isolate at this point whether any colour change has been a result of the temperature difference or the additional nutrients and acid product that I have added to the soil…

If you have any ideas on how I might help these plants to bloom more “true” to the colour range that I would expect to see in the plants, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts! Thank you very much for your time!

With much appreciation!,



Thank you for sending your gardening question to Toronto Master Gardeners.  Your detailed question shows a great deal of care, curiosity and attention to the smallest possible factors that might be influencing the colours of the Hemerocallis.

We are not sufficiently acquainted with the breeding and growing of day lilies to give you a definitive answer, so our suggestion is that you contact the experts and discuss it with them.  You can start with the sellers of the ‘Malaysian Monarch’, Arcadian Daylilies, at  If you would like to explore the issue by getting more opinions or even go on a luscious day trip to a fabulous grower, check out We’re In the Hayfield Now (Orono, not far from Peterborough) at  As you can imagine, this is the very best time to see the fields of colourful lilies in bloom.

Good luck with your research.