Missouri's Orange "Ditch" Lilies
Missouri’s orange "ditch" daylilies were once a staple of European gardens, every part of the plant edible. I was intrigued to find that our European North American settlers carefully packed these lilies in their first shipments to their new world home, along with bee hives, in 1622.
Not having been raised to disdain these flowers, I have gladly welcomed discards over the past decades. I now have orange day lilies lining rock-filled garden paths, popping up behind shrubs and adding spots of color in mixed borders.
When my house was first built in 1982, I used these lilies for soil control and color where nothing else would grow. Today leaf drop decomposition has created soil and now every year I have new surprising spots of orange day lilies. A bit backwards, I agree, but then I had daffodils planted in my garden before we broke ground on the house.
All Plant Parts Edible
Orange day lilies are completely edible from root to flower. Flowers are rich in protein and can be eaten in bud or full flower.
Hemerocollis fulva are native to Asia. Chinese cooking uses them in such dishes as moo shu pork and hot and sour soup.
They grow well in both sun and part shade USDA hardiness zones 5-10.
Although the flowers only bloom for a day, they are prodigious bud developers and will bloom continuously for several weeks. No riding lawn mowers, either. A friend’s husband inadvertently mowed over one of her orange day lily flower beds last year and they came back looking totally unscathed. I suppose that could be a bit scary.