Gardeners often plant other flowers with their daylilies to highlight and draw attention to the daylilies, the main feature of their perennial garden.
Gardeners plant daylilies in their flower beds and borders for various reasons among which is to blend particular colors and textures for which daylilies are known to their mixed perennial beds. Alternately they seek to use other complementary companion plants to highlight with their daylilies, which are often the main feature of their perennial garden.
The companion plants one chooses will differ considerably in these two cases. In the first case the gardener may be less concerned if their companion plants are taller or bushier than their daylilies, but in the latter case such plants might well completely hide the prized daylily one is seeking to highlight. In this article I focus on companion plants that help focus attention on one’s daylilies.
The ten companion plants featured here work particularly well with daylilies having blooms no more than 30 inches in height. The companion plants chosen—and the colors selected—will naturally depend on the color of the daylily being highlighted.
There are many types of speedwell, ranging from those that are prostrate to others that grow several feet tall. In summer the tall forms bear slender, closely branched spikes of small white, blue, pink, or purple flowers.
Some bear flowers on 18-inch stems while others are mat-forming with flowers no more than four-inches tall. Speedwell plants are particularly compatible with daylilies which are also sun-lovers and need an evenly moist soil to look their best.
A particular good variety ‘Goodness Grows’ has not only its clear blue color going for it: it offers an extended bloom period and adapts well to both cold Northern winters and sultry Southern summers. From May to October, ‘Goodness Grows’ speedwell brandishes spike after spike of deep blue flowers on 12 to 14-inch stems.
Oxeye daisies can be identified by their daisy-like flowers which appear individually at the terminal ends of its many flower stalks and have white ray flowers and yellow disk flowers that are about 2 inches in diameter.
Mature plants are around 10 inches tall with up to 24-inch flower stalks atop erect, smooth to sparsely hairy stems. Oxeye daisies are often confused with the ornamental Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum), which as a more robust plant with larger flowers may overwhelm small to medium sized daylilies. Since its basal rosettes must experience a period of cold temperatures oxeyes may not do well in zones 8 and above.
Bright and bushy, Salvia x sylvestris ‘Rose Queen’ blooms beginning in early summer and then blooming repeatedly until frost! The blooms are richly colorful on upright, very full 20-inch plants, presenting a fine show of color that not only complements many daylilies but also attract butterflies. Note that the Salvia nemorosa ‘Sensation Rose’ variety may be preferable for planting near miniature daylilies although its bloom period is somewhat shorter than that of ‘Rose Queen’.
Catmint should be grown in a sunny location, but like some daylilies, will tolerate some shade in hot climates. Although the flower stems are considerably taller, their arching habit brings the height down to 18 to 24 inches if it is not staked. Flowering will continue through the summer if the plants are pruned back by two-thirds after the initial flowers fade. Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ has few pest or disease problems.
This variety of one of America’s most loved plants is the most cold hardy existence. In southern gardens the purple flowers on this plant will start appearing as early as March and continue until frost. If left unchecked these plants will spread up to 6 feet but can be sheared during the season to contain its growth and promote more flower production.
Exceptionally tough and drought tolerant and, like daylilies, requires a well-drained location. It grows to around 10 inches tall and prefers full sun. It is deer resistant, and is perennial in USDA Zones: 6-9. Gardeners in more northern climes may prefer to plant an annual variety of the verbena. Another variety, ‘rose’ verbena ranges from 6 to 18 inches tall, spreads up to 2 feet wide, thrives in sunny spots and can handle dry conditions.
Campanula ‘Blue Clips’ (or alternately ‘White Clips) produces loads of brilliant blue, upward-facing, bell-shaped flowers that bloom all summer. This improved Campanula blooms more profusely, spreads faster, and tolerates shadier and drier locations better than earlier varieties. ‘Blue Clips’ have attractive mounding habit up to 8 inches tall and reblooms more readily if deadheaded. Like daylilies, ‘Blue Clips’ likes its soil moist but well-drained, will grow in either full sun, though some shade is recommended in areas with very hot summers.
Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby’ has beautiful dark, rich, rosy red, glossy flowers that cover its dark green thread-like foliage. Blooming from June through October, ‘Limerock Ruby’ is drought tolerant with a plant height of 12 inches and a spread of 23-27 inches. With cool autumn weather, the flowers make an even more outstanding color scheme. While it should be planted in full sun, it is drought-tolerant and tough but need well-drained soil. It should be cut backing early and late summer to extend the bloom period.
Monarda ‘Petite Delight’, also known as Bee Balm, is a clump-forming perennial that has tubular, light red to purple flowers with dark green aromatic foliage. It is one of the smallest Monarda in its family and has the darkest foliage. ‘Petite Delight’ stands at 15 inches high and has a plant spread of 12-18 inches, blooming from July to August. If deadheaded, longer bloom times will be encouraged. ‘Petite Delights’ are best grown in rich soil in a well-drained area, not being allowed to dry out. It needs to be planted in full sun, but will tolerate afternoon shade.
Delphinium grandiflorum ‘Summer Nights’ is a lovely dwarf variety that reaches only 12 inches tall making it a great companion for short daylilies. It produces masses deep violet blue flowers in late spring through early summer but cutting back the first flush of blooms quickly stimulates reblooming. Another variety, ‘Summer Blues’, is produces masses of 1 ½-inch sky blue flowers, stands at a height of 10-12 inches and forms compact mounds of well-branched foliage in early summer. Both varieties require rich, well-drained soil
Geranium ‘Rozanne’, one of the several perennial geraniums available to the gardener, has large, violet blue flowers with white eyes that bloom from June till August. With its beautiful dark green foliage, grows to a height of around 18 inches and needs to be cut back in early summer for repeat bloom time in the fall. Geranium ‘Rozanne’, being drought tolerant, needs a full sun area with some shade in the afternoon, especially in hot climates. For best results, plant in a dry to moist area in a well-drained site.
There are numerous other perennials that might do equally well as companion plants in your daylily beds, but those highlighted here will act as a good starting point.