A Host of Golden Daffodils
The Popularity of Daffodils
When I think of Daffodils, the first thing that comes into my mind is the poem by William Wordsworth. As a garden designer, colours are very important to me. I often get clients saying that they do not like the colour yellow. However, when I ask, “So you don’t like daffodils?” Immediately there is a change of mind. The appearance of those full buds just about to burst into bloom brings us all hope. After a long, grey, cold winter I think we all long for warmth. The yellow blooms of daffodils bring instant sunshine. Daffodils also suit many styles of gardens, whether you have a contemporary London city garden, a country cottage garden, a rural estate with rolling landscapes, a roof garden, or a balcony. There is a huge variety of daffodils to choose from. There are daffodils for February all the way through to May. Discussing daffodils with my friend Alan (who is a florist) he described them as “Blatantly gaudy, unapologetically happy flowers, childlike in their simplicity and yet when you look at them properly, they are exquisitely intricate and beautiful….and there are so many stunning varieties” I think he got that spot on.
Narcissus Paper Whites
Daffodils are predominantly known as being yellow. The yellow varieties can vary from a rich golden yellow such as Narcissus Dutch Master, to the pale, icy yellow of Narcissus Lemon Drops. However, there are other colours of daffodils available. A variety of them come in white such as the scented Narcissus Paper Whites. Narcissus Toto is a new variety that is multi-headed with white petals and the palest lemon trumpet. Other come in a cream colour such as the double bloom Narcissus Obdam that resembles a Gardenia. Another ivory-coloured beauty is Narcissus Mount Hood. Then there are the orange colour daffodils. The cyclamineus variety Narcissus Jetfire has an orange trumpet with a swept back perianth of golden yellow petals. Narcissus Orange Progress is a yellow daffodil but what is striking about the flower is the trumpet that finishes with an orange frill. There are also pink daffodils. Narcissus Pink Charm has an ivory trumpet base that blends into a pale apricot pink. This is set of by a perianth of white petals.
Narcissus Rip Van Winkle
Planting Time and Soil for Daffodils
Daffodil bulbs appear in the nurseries just at the right time to start planting so get planting as soon as you see them. Late August to September is the best time to plant your daffodil bulbs. The longer rooting time you allow the bulbs the better results you will get with growth and quality of blooms. Plant daffodil bulbs at two or three times their own depth. Planting the bulbs deep helps them to flower and naturalise better. If you have poor drainage in your garden, my advice would be to put some grit in the planting holes.
Narcissus bulbs prefer a moist but well drained soil. They do not like to dry out. Most daffodils like an acid to neutral soil and prefer being positioned in a slightly cooler environment under the dappled shade of trees. However, the Jonquils and Tazettas prefer a slightly alkaline soil and are happier in full sun where they can bake in summer. I have seen witnessed the Tazettas growing in such conditions in Crete.
Narcissus Tete A Tete
Narcissus Lemon Drops
Divisions of Daffodils
There are so many different types of daffodils that they have been divided into divisions based open their flower form.
Division 1 – are the trumpet daffodils. These bear a single bloom on each stem. There is a long trumpet (corona) in the centre long as the petals (perianth) or sometimes longer. Narcissus Little Beauty and N. Mount Hood
Division 2 – these are large -cupped daffodils that also have a single bloom on each stem. The centre cup is one-third but slightly smaller than the length of the petals. Narcissus Chelsea Girl and N. Charlston
Division 3 – these are small-cupped daffodils that bear one bloom per stem. The cup is no longer than the length of the petals. Narcissus Iced Lemon and N. Village Green
Division 4 – these are exactly as the name implies. There are layers of petals with ruffles towards the centre. There can be one or more blooms per stem. Some of the division 4 daffodils are fragrant. Narcissus Cheerfulness and N. Rip Van Winkle
Division 5 – these daffodils have the characteristics of Narcissus triandrus where there are two or more nodding flower heads per stem and each bloom has its petals swept back. Narcissus Hawera and N. Ice Wings
Division 6 – these daffodils have the characteristics of Narcissus cyclamineus where the head of the head of the bloom nods and the petals are swept right back. There is only one bloom per stem. Narcissus Jack Snipe and N.Itzim
Narcissus Pink Charm
Division 7 – these daffodils are generally multi-headed with one to five blooms per stem. The show the characteristics of Narcissus jonquilla where the blooms are sweetly scented, and the petals are ither spread flat or reflexed around the trumpet. Narcissus Quail and N. Pipit
Division 8 – the Tazetta daffodils show characteristics of Narcissus tazetta. These have anywhere between three to 20 sweetly scented blooms on a thick stem with spreading petals. Narcissus Minnow and N. Silver Chimes
Division 9 – the Poeticus style daffodils have one scented bloom per stem. These show the characteristics of Narcissus poeticus. They have white petals and very short cups that can be green or yellow with a red rim. Narcissus Actea and N. Ornatus
Division 10 – these daffodils have a pronounced flared trumpet that looks like a petticoat and insignificant petal, showing the characteristics of Narcissus bulbocodium. Narcissus White Petticoat and N. Oxford Gold
Division 11 – the daffodils are the variety where the corona has split more than half its length and then starting to look like another layer of petals. Narcissus Egard and N. Abstract.
Narcissus Jack Snipe
Division 12 – are daffodils that do not fit into any other division. Narcissus Jumblie and N. Tete-A-Tete
Division 13 – are the species Narcissus. Narcissus jonquilla and N. cyclamineus
Narcissus Mount Hood
After Bloom Care of Daffodils
Once your daffodils have finished flowering, do not be in a rush to cut or mow the foliage down. You can snip off just the dead flower heads and stems. This will prevent the bulbs from exerting energy into creating seed. The leaves must stay in place for at least six weeks. The photosynthesis that takes place through the leaves, feeds the bulbs with the chemicals needed to produce the food that keep bulbs blooming year after year. If this process does not take place, it stunts the bulbs and effects the quality of blooms the following year.
If conditions are dry after flowering, water thoroughly until the foliage starts showing signs of dying back. It is also a good idea to give the bulbs a high potassium feed such as tomato feed. Dry soil should also be improved by mulching. Avoid tying the leaves up into knots and lets them dye back naturally.
If your daffodils are overcrowded and you have noticed that poor or no flowering, lift them up after the foliage dies back. Improve the soil with organic matter and a little general-purpose fertiliser. Then replant the bulbs allowing 5 – 7.5cm space between them.