Daylily Flower Meaning

Daylily Flower Meaning: Chinese Symbols, Greek Myths & Easter Lilies

Daylily flower meaning begins in ancient times. For the Chinese, the daylily means filial devotion to one’s mother. Beginning in the Victorian era with the language of flowers, daylily flower meaning includes “forgetting worries” and “flirtatious.” 

Lilies have long been treasured for their beauty and strong floral scent. The lily family includes flowers with six petals. Daylilies have two layers of three petals each. There are 80-100 species of lilies, most of which are native to Asia, Europe, and North America. The bulbs of lilies are a starchy root that have been eaten for ages in China.

Daylily Flower Meaning

Daylily Flower Meaning in Greek Myths

In ancient times, the lily was dedicated to Hera, the wife of Zeus. A less then faithful spouse, Zeus fathered his son Hercules by the mortal woman Alceme.

Although the mother was mortal, Zeus wanted his son to have divine powers, so he brought the baby to Hera while she slept to allow the baby to nurse and receive divine powers through her milk.

When she awoke, she flung the child from her in wrath. Her milk spewed across the universe, forming the Milky Way. Some drops of her milk fell to earth. These drops became the first lilies.

Daylily Flower Meaning White

Daylily Flower Meaning: Name Origin

The botanical name for daylilies comes from the Greek word “hemera” meaning “day.” The daylily is aptly named due to the the fact that the flowers open at sunrise and wither at sunset. Daylily blossoms literally last for one day only!

The daylily plant produces flowers each day for four to five weeks. Daylilies are popular worldwide, with over 60,000 species of lilies. Water lilies are a separate type of lily and family with 58 species of its own. True lilies grow from a planted bulb. The Stargazer lily is known for its fragrance and usefulness as cut flowers.

Lily Flower Meaning History

The day lily has many names in China. When it has a cheerful position, the flower is called “Wong Yu,” meaning “Forgetting Worries.” As an omen for expectant mothers who wish for baby boys, the flower is called “I Nan,” meaning “Suited for A Boy.” In this way, lilies represent the relationship between a mother and son. For this reason, the lily is worn by many mothers.

In the Western world, the lily is connected to the Virgin Mary, symbolizing purity and innocence. Additionally, Lily is the most popular of all flower names for girls, exceeding other flower names like Daisy, Rose, Alyssa, Cassia, Camellia, Poppy and Myrtle.

Daylily Flower Meaning Easter

History of the Easter Lily

The Easter lily is the most well-known and popular variety. The Easter lily is native to japan. A soldier named Louis Houghton brought the lily back to America from Japan in 1919. He shared the bulbs among his friends and fellow gardeners.

When WWII broke out, Asian sources for the bulbs became scarce and expensive. American nurseries took on the plant, with over 1,200 nurseries producing Easter lilies by 1945.

Today over 95% of all Easter lilies are grown in ten farms in California and Oregon in the United States. Easter lilies are grown in greenhouses under forced conditions so that they will bloom at Easter. The cultivar usually grown for Easter is called “Nellie White.”

Pink Daylily Flower Meaning

Daylily Flower Meaning by Color

In addition to traditional daylily flower meanings of forgetting worries, filial devotion and flitaciousness, daylily flower meaning can also change based on color. Common daylily colors include white, yellow, pink,  red and orange. Typical meanings are listed below: 

White Daylily Flower Meaning: White lilies symbolize purity, innocence, and tranquility.

Red Daylily Flower Meaning: Red lilies symbolize passion and love.

Pink Daylily Flower Meaning: Pink lilies symbolize prosperity, abundance, and joy. Most pink lilies are the Stargazer hybrid.

Yellow Daylily Flower Meaning: Yellow lilies symbolize thankfulness.

Orange Daylily Flower Meaning: Orange lilies symbolize confidence, pride, and wealth. Orange daylilies include Tiger Lilies recognizable for their unique brown spots.

Discovering the Daylily Flower

During the Victorian Era, European explorers discovered and collected “new” plants to be cultivated, with many species of lily being discovered

One Irish doctor turned botanist, Augustine Henry, became obsessed with scouring the Orient for exotic flowers. The Orange Lilium Henry is named after him. Another famous explorer was the Englishman E.H. Wilson, who is most famous for his discovery of the white Lilium regale, the Regal Lily.

Daylilies thrive in neglected areas. They have spread so widely that they are sometimes considered a native wildflower. In the wild they are called Roadside Daylily, Railroad Daylily or Outhouse Daylily.

Daylilies have three petals, three sepals and six stamen. Day lilies grow in clumps, have long, flat leaves and are highly adaptable as landscape flowers.

Lily Meaning and Medicinal Uses

Medicinal Uses of Lilies

Historically the lily was believed to have medicinal properties. Some species of the daylily are edible and are eaten in dishes in China including soup and stir-fry dishes. In the Elizabethan era, texts include lily based remedies to treat fever, wounds, and arthritis.

People throughout the ages have used lilies in perfumes, cosmetics, and anti-aging creams. Lily flower petals mixed with honey were thought to remove wrinkles. Today there are no official pharmaceutical uses for lilies. 


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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.


Daylily flower meaning includes devotion, forgetting worries, flirtatious and more. Daylilies have an ancient history in mythology, medicinal uses and as a food source. Daylily blossoms literally last for only one day! Learn more about this classic flower and daylily flower meaning.

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