Plant Family Guides: Narcissus - Daffodils
When days grow short and winds blow cold, indoor flowers go a long way to warm the heart and cheer the soul. The easiest and most rewarding bulbs you can grow, Paperwhites are amazingly fragrant daffodils that are perfect for producing flowers in a short period of time when grown indoors. Hailing from the temperate shores of the southeastern Mediterranean, these bright, peppery-scented bulb flowers are not winter hardy. However, in warm climates (zones 8-11) with hot, dry summers, paperwhite bulbs can be planted outside where they will bloom annually for many years. Paperwhites are members of the daffodil family, Narcissus tazetta.
Naturalizing bulbs is a terrific way to brighten up lawns, prairies or meadows in spring. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year. What could be better?
Flowering bulbs look appealing when planted under garden trees. However, planting any bulbs beneath trees is not always successful because of the dense shade cast by the trees, the competition with their roots and the lack of moisture under these trees. If a tree competes with bulbs for light, water or nutrients, the tree always wins.
Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus: these are the spring bloomers everyone knows. But there are hundreds of other, lesser-known beauties to plant in fall. Some are small and delicate, others tall and ungainly. All are fabulous. Wait till you see them!
Narcissus (Daffodils) are among the easiest bulbs to grow and regarded as some of the most valuable spring bulbs for the South. Long lived, they naturalize and multiply year after year. Versatile, they offer a fascinating array of flower forms, sizes, and colors. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year.
If you look for more than a beautiful drift of creamy or golden flowers, and wish to add another terrific dimension to your spring garden, plant fragrant Narcissus cultivars. While many daffodil bulbs are fragrant, most do not have a perfume powerful enough to enjoy unless you stick your nose directly into the bulb. The following daffodils are regarded as the most fragrant. Grow them close to where you sit in the garden, or along paths to savor their sweet fragrance as you pass by.
The following daffodils are recipients of both the Award of Garden Merit and the Wister Award, two highly coveted and prestigious awards. These super-daffodils have proven to be vigorous, sturdy and reliably perennial. They include many different flower shapes and bloom seasons. If you plant a few of each variety, you will get weeks and weeks of spring color every year! Some are delightfully fragrant. Grow them close to where you sit in the garden, or along paths to savor their sweet fragrance as you pass by.
Rock gardens offer the perfect home for an extensive array of plants including evergreens, deciduous shrubs, perennials, annuals, and flowering bulbs. A surprisingly large number of perennial bulbs do well in rock gardens, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), wild tulips (Tulipa), miniature daffodils (Narcissus) and plenty others charming bulbs. The following list of perennial bulbs thrive in rock garden conditions and you will be delighted to see them every spring or fall.
The most popular companion of the tulip, daffodils are spring flowering bulbs mostly known as yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. However, daffodils (Narcissus) offer a wider range of flower shapes and colors that are absolutely fabulous when combined with other spring bulbs. Long lived, they naturalize and multiply year after year. Versatile, they are perfect for beds and borders, rock gardens, containers or window boxes. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year. As an added, most are fragrant and all are deer and rodent resistant.
The Tazetta Narcissus group includes very short cupped, sweetly fragrant, mid-sized daffodils bearing multiple flowers, up to 3-20 per sturdy stem. Many are not hardy to the more northern climates, but are terrific performers in USDA Zones 5-9. Excellent for forcing (this division includes the world-famous but tender paperwhites), they also naturalize readily in wet-winter, dry-summer climates. Suitable as garden plants or for cutting, most bloom in mid-late spring.
Large and powerfully fragrant, Narcissus poeticus and its hybrids produce elegant and simply beautiful flowers, adorned with glistening white petals, very small red-rimmed yellow cups, and green eyes. Blooming in late spring, usually one flower per stem, these daffodils thrive in damp soil and look wonderful naturalized in tall grasses or next to a few deciduous trees.
Elegant and graceful, the Cyclamineus or Miniature Daffodils feature small flowers, one per stem, with slightly to strongly swept-back petals and straight-sided trumpets. Sometimes, they resemble cyclamen, therefore the name of their group. Among the first hybrid daffodils to bloom, they can be admired from early to mid spring and sometimes later in the season, depending on cultivars and weather conditions. More shade tolerant than most daffodil varieties, these Miniature Daffodils naturalize easily. Great choices for rock gardens, containers and forcing.
Incredibly romantic and beautiful, Double Daffodils resemble peonies or carnations more than classic daffodils with their packed rows of petals and all their frills. This group includes either daffodils with a doubled trumpet or daffodils with a double row of petals or even both. Many cultivars are sweetly fragrant. They usually bear one flower per stem, but occasionally may have more. Flower colors range from yellow, white to peach, pink or red and these lovely blossoms are usually expected in mid to late spring. Double Daffodils work especially well under flowering trees and shrubs.
Triandrus Narcissi, sometimes called 'Angels' Tears', produce up to 2-3 small to medium-sized flowers per stem in mid to late spring. Their distinguishing feature is that the perianth petals flare back and away from the bell-shaped cup so that the cup is more conspicuous. The delicate-looking flowers, white or yellow, are always angled downward. Usually strongly fragrant, these low-growing little daffodils have a definite preference for somewhat damp habitats. They are also frequently used in rock gardens.
The Large-Cupped Narcissus group is one of the most popular group of daffodils. Why? Several reasons account for their popularity. First, they offer a wide range of colors (white, yellow, pink, peach or red) and cup shapes: flat, ruffled or trumpet-like. Adding unique charm and symmetry to the garden or containers, they typically produce large flowers, one bloom per stem, in mid spring. Importantly, they are good for naturalizing and are reliably perennial, multiplying year after year.
Loved since the 17th century, Jonquil Daffodils produce small flowers, 3 or more per stem, with short, wide petals held at right angles to cups. The cup of these daffodils is not that large: usually half the length of the petals. Strongly fragrant, their foliage is often rush like. Blooming in mid-late spring, they are excellent for naturalizing and prefer sunny locations, warm soils and humid conditions. Their heady fragrance has seduced many generations of gardeners.
Reminiscent of a hoop petticoat caught in the wind in early to mid spring, Narcissus bulbocodium is by far the most widespread of the hoop petticoat daffodils. The main characteristic of this charming daffodil is short, very narrow petals and huge, flaring, funnel-shaped cups. Low-growing, it blooms prolifically, 3-5 blossoms per bulb, over a long season. Its attractive foliage of dark green leaves, resembling clumps of chives, is almost evergreen. Thriving in sunny locations and acid soils, it is excellent for naturalizing as it multiplies quickly and self-seeds as well. Rock gardens and naturalized areas are ideal places to plant these dwarf daffodils.
Trumpet Daffodils are quite traditional-looking with their large flowers, one bloom per stem, and their long trumpets (just as long or longer than the length of the perianth segments). This group offers a wide variety of colors (white, yellow and dramatic color combinations) and shapes (wide, narrow or flared trumpets). Blooming in early to mid spring, they can be grown in any garden setting, sun or shade, or in grass. Plant the smaller one in rock gardens and the taller one in drifts or dotted under trees where they will draw everyone's attention.
Small-Cupped Daffodils produce medium-sized flowers, one bloom per stem, characterized by a small cup or corona: not more than one-third the length of the petals. Mid season bloomers, this group includes many attractive, bi-colored cultivars, adorned with perfectly formed, white and pale petals, and usually strongly colored cups.
Easy to plant, Daffodils are extraordinarily rewarding every spring with their bright cheery blossoms warming our soul from the previous winter months. Long lived, they naturalize and multiply year after year and offer a wide range of flower shapes and colors to pick from. Versatile, they are perfect for beds and borders, rock gardens, containers or window boxes. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year. As an added, most are fragrant and all are deer and rodent resistant.
To achieve optimum flowering results, it is important to plant the bulbs at the right time.
Since most Azaleas and Rhododendrons provide colorful interest in spring, choosing bulbs or perennials with fall and winter interest would enable you to enjoy appealing and long-lasting planting combinations.