One of the best perennial vegetables: daylilies

There are so many finicky, exotic perennial vegetables out there we go to such embarrassing lengths to get (at least I do) and often for paltry harvests. Why aren’t daylilies far more renown as a perennial vegetable?

Daylily flowers ready for lunch

I think it’s culinary block. People just don’t know how to eat them, and find apprehension for eating flowers. It’s just strange.*

Hemerocalis fulva in Mortal Tree

It’s also decadent though, when you think about it. Soft, sweet, a little tinge of that characteristic daylily flavor. As this flavor is subtle it readily blends with green or cooked allium -another easily grown army of perennial vegetables. See here how I sautéd with just salt and pepper with a sprinkling of chives.

I chopped the flowers and buds to about 1 inch lengths. Just a simple sauté but excellent results.

Species that are well known as edibles are some of the most common -H. Fulva grows in heaps by many country roadsides. H. citrina covers many yellow varieties.

H. fulva growing in heaps by a roadside near me

These two species I mixed in the dish pictured.

Should you transplant some fulva from the roadside, no need to even dig a hole in your garden to plant it. Just set it on top of the ground with the soil it came with and it will grow -and flower. I have seen this happen many times.

I wrote about daylilies a while ago as a ground cover. In this context, I often recommend interplanting some edible or ornamental vine that will clamber up the flowering stems and pull them back down in fall and winter. See the past article linked or my publication Mastering the Growing Edge for ideas. (I am currently running a giveaway of my last physical copy of this publication via Mortal Tree’s Instagram right now. No account required to view.)

The height of these flowering stems means you don’t even have to bend over to harvest. Does that sound attractive?

All around an excellent addition to the food forest garden. Does anyone else have experience preparing this perennial vegetable?

*And I must say, in a world where people can die from peanuts due to allergies, do exercise caution when trying new foods. Some writers have mentioned experiencing throat and mouth irritation from some varieties. I have never come across this myself though, and never heard of specific varieties to avoid. H. fulva and citrina are both well documented as edibles. So perhaps avoid species not well known as edibles, and proceed with caution as you see fit.

6 comments

  1. I have eaten daylilies for years, but I remove the stamens. Chop them into “confetti”and mix with cream cheese or mayo for fairy sandwiches. Kids love them. Put the petals or unopened buds into salads, or stuff the whole flowers with a small pesto-cheese or olive-cheese ball. Fill the flowers with sweetened whipped cream with a bit of nutmeg for a fancy dessert. Do know that the tetraploids sometimes cause stomach cramps, especially if eaten in quantity, so your advice to stick the the common “ditch” types is good. And the dried flowers are a natural thickening agent, often used in gumbo and Asian foods.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fantastic! I’m quite intrigued by the whipped cream stuffed idea. Sounds delicious. And thank you for the tetraploid note. I had only heard suggestions along the lines of color. Tetraploid is a much more definite indicator albeit technical. Appreciate the info!

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  2. Wow! I have had day lilies growing in the garden for years and had no idea that they are edible. I am really excited to try them – great suggestions by carolee 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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