Hemerocallis minor, one of the oldest daylilies, grows to a height of about one foot (30 cm) and it produces yellow hued blooms, each measuring about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. This plant blooms in May. Although this plant gives rise to a few stems, they are not branched properly and is considered to be a very shy bloomer.
Few decades back, botanists discovered a new daylily species in Asia - named Hemerocallis multiflora. This species produced very small blooms and had excellent branched stems. While Hemerocallis minor is a dwarf and early flowering species, the Hemerocallis multiflora not only blooms late in the season, but unlike the Hemerocallis minor, it also possesses a pleasing branching habit. Therefore, it appeared that combining the two species may possibly help to create a new variety of daylily miniatures having superior value in the garden.
The first miniature hybrid developed by combining the Hemerocallis minor and Hemerocallis multiflora was named "Mignon". The foliage of this new miniature daylily hybrid was similar to grass and grew up to a height of one foot, bearing delicate flowers that measured 2 inches in diameter. This new hybrid produced copious flowers on slender stems that were about 30 inches tall and swayed softly in the breeze.
However, it is interesting to note that "Mignon" did not attract the attention from gardeners, possibly because it produced yellow blooms and was developed at a time when majority of daylily aficionados were focusing on developing plants with larger flowers and newer hues. Nevertheless, some enthusiasts could envisage similar miniature daylilies producing purple, pink, red and multicolored flowers having various patterns. Therefore, breeders as well as gardeners did not neglect "Mignon" completely. Instead, this hybrid was utilized in various breeding programs undertaken to create the above mentioned type of miniature daylilies.
The American Hemerocallis Society classified these types of daylilies as small-flowered, miniature, and dwarf. The first two types refer to the size of the flowers, while the third denotes the height of the plant. Flowers that are below 7.5 cm (3 inches) in diameter are known as miniature, while the size of the small-flower daylilies can vary from 7.5 cm (3 inches) to 11 cm (4 1/2 inches) across. Often, the small-flower daylilies are also called Pony.
A dwarf daylily is a plant which grows up to a maximum height of 30 cm (12 inches). Normally, the dwarf daylily plants are excellently proportioned. For instance, the tiniest daylilies like "Penny Earned" and "Penny's Worth" have grass-like foliage and produce flowers that measure about 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) in diameter. They bear light yellow flowers and orange-hued bells on scapes that grow up to a height of 25 cm (10 inches). The dwarf daylily called "Eenie Weenie" grows as low as the other two varieties mentioned above, but produce relatively larger sunny-yellow flowers.
Precisely speaking, daylily plant having short flowering stems called scape are classified as dwarf. The scapes of dwarf daylilies generally grow up to a height of 30 cm (12 inches). On the other hand, daylilies classified as small or miniature may produce larger flowers, but they may be borne by scapes that often grow quite tall. Therefore, the flower size scale will look better when you plant them in small gardens. At the same time, it is essential for gardeners to ensure the entire plant's height.
Miniature daylilies are slightly taller compared to the dwarf daylilies. The plants generally bloom after they have grown up to a height of anything between 30 cm and 75 cm (12 inches and 30 inches). Miniature daylilies look their best when they are grown in natural plantings like forest clearings or in any informal sunlit borders. The miniature daylily variety called "Cherries are Ripe" is not only charming, but produces cherry-red flowers with a green colored throat region. These flowers remind one of ripened berries. These blooms appear on lean scapes that are about 70 cm (28 inches) tall, on top of the plant's foliage.
Even daylilies producing small flowers (small-flowered daylilies) usually grow up to a height of anything between 30 cm and 75 cm (12 inches and 30 inches), while the average height of the scape is roughly 45 cm (18 inches). The form of small-flowered daylilies can differ from miniscule bells to small, round-shaped buttons to the more common shape and triangular like in the case of "Siloam David Kirchhoff", which bears soft orchid-like lavender-hued blooms having very slender carmine penciled line encircling a washed mauve colored eye. Spiders are also categorized as small-flowered daylily, especially the curly-segmented yellow hued "Rococo". These days, tetraploid small-flowered daylilies as well as tetraploid miniature daylilies (such as mini tets) come with broad, overlapping sections, but they are shaped in exact ratio to their height, absolutely in proportion with their diploid relatives.
Small daylilies can be defined as plant bearing flowers whose diameter is no less than three inches or not in excess of 4 1/2 inches. Similarly, miniature daylilies are those that produce flowers measuring less than three inches in width.
Initially, there were only two species of these "diminutive" daylilies - Hemerocallis multiflora and Hemerocallis minor. Breeders patiently and painstakingly selected these two species and combined them to produce several miniature varieties that are currently available with names as well as colors such as Black Eyed Stella (yellow), Baby Darling (Purple-Grape) and Aztec Gold (golden). Now, all landscape gardeners can avail these varieties of diminutive daylilies.
Today, several selections are available and these make miniature daylilies attractive additions to any rock garden or along the low permanent edges of garden paths.
Hybridizing daylilies has resulted in the creation of dwarfs bearing small flowers and miniatures producing scattered little bell-like blooms that come in complete color range and are ideal for growing in rock gardens and along the borders. Hence, this is the right time for you to begin collecting these daylilies.