The daylily is actually not a true lily but comes from the genus Hermerocallis spp., a Greek term formulated from two words: "hemera," meaning day, and "kallos" meaning beauty. The daylily is a perennial, or plant that grows back from the root every spring, and is available in many varieties. Daylilies are usually resistant to disease, making them popular choices for gardeners and homeowners. But they are at risk from insects, particularly the snail.
Characteristics of Daylilies
With their different varieties, colors, sizes and blooming periods, dayliliesare hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Zones 3 to 9. They can grow from 8 inches to 5 feet tall. They prefer full sun with the darker color blooms needing extra protection from late afternoon sun. Flowers are typically orange or yellow and bloom from late spring until fall. One flower lasts only a day, but each plant can produce many buds. They prefer somewhat acidic (a pH of about 6 to 6.5), well-drained soil.
A well-established plant is fairly drought tolerant, but new daylilies need regular watering after planting until established. Watering is also important to ensure good flower quality while the plant is developing buds. Daylilies will grow without fertilizer, but light fertilizing ensures best results. A fertilizer with some nitrogen and more phosphorous and potash is recommended in early spring and again in the middle of summer. Water the plants after fertilizing. Once the flower blooms, faded blooms and seedpods should be deadheaded (or removed) to help encourage more flowering.
Uses for Daylilies
The versatile daylily can be used in perennial borders, planted in masses or used as groundcover to prevent erosion or as foundation plantings. Smaller varieties can even be used in container gardening.
Snails and slugs can be problematic to daylilies, especially in the spring. Snails are not actually insects but mollusks, feeding on the young new growth, chewing up leaf edges and making holes in the middle of leaves. Trails of slime are a good sign there is a snail problem. Snails eat at night and hide during the daylight hours. If the infestation is bad, they will attack buds and flowers too.
Control begins with prevention. Plants grown under good conditions will help prevent problems from arising. This means keeping the daylily watered regularly, fertilized and weed free. This will keep the plants vital and in a good condition to fight off disease or insects. If snails appear despite preventative measures, take away their daytime hiding places by removing plant litter or mulch near the plant base. You can also pick snails off the plants by hand.