The common day lily is colorful, plentiful and virtually impossible to kill accidentally or intentionally. It spreads on its own easily and provides color and substance year round for those who know. While yellow and orange colored flowers are the most common there are cultivars that range in color from white to crimson red. The only two that I am aware of that can be eaten safely are the yellow and orange varieties.
The shoots appear early in the spring sometimes poking out through the snow for the northern regions. The first shoots are crunchy and can be eaten much like one would eat a cooked water chestnut. As the leaves grow they become more fibrous but are still safe to eat after cooking. When the flower stalk appears the flower buds soon follow. Day lilies like many other flowers will produce more flowers if the buds or flowers are picked. When the buds appear they can be eaten raw, dipped in batter and fried and pickled. The flowers can be eaten raw, added to salads or sandwiches and dehydrated for use later in rice dishes as a garnish and in salads. The lower petal is sweeter than the outer edges. When fall arrives many people dig and separate the day lily roots. The small oblong tubers can be eaten raw, cooked like one would a potato and pickled. Day lily flowers contain 9% protein, 60% carbohydrates (mostly from glucose) and is high in Vitamin A.
Flower petals can be boiled for a minute then cooled and strained to produce a wash that has proven to show antimicrobial property. This means preparing a washing solution from the flowers will prevent wounds from festering or to treat an infected wound. Bringing a root to boil and allowing it to cool will help relieve water retention.
The thick leaves are very fibrous. Pounded and allowed to dry they can be braided then woven into sandals, hats and pads for sitting. Day lily hedges are pretty, edible and will self propagate. The flowers attract bees and other pollinating insects. Allow the leaves to remain on the ground over winter. This helps protect the roots from freezing and allows you to find them even if there is snow on the ground.