Daffodils. Just thinking of these sunny, cheerful flowers evokes such a sense of warmth and happiness each season. The daffodil, in the Narcissus family, is one of the first flowers that grace us with their appearance in March and are synonymous with the start of Spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. Who doesn’t love these early spring bloomers? Like William
Wordsworth eloquently stated:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Why We’re Featuring a Daffodil Plant Profile for March
Whether growing naturally in the wild or grown commercially, the daffodil grows from a true bulb into the beautiful varieties we see today. In addition to their beauty, daffodils often symbolize rebirth and renewal due to their early spring arrival. They can also symbolize friendship. Also, did you know they are considered the flower of the month for March? How fitting that this post is being released on the first day of spring!
Last month, we profiled the beautiful flower of love, the Rose. You can read all about that post and learn about the various colors, varieties, and even pet-safety tips regarding that plant. This month we turn our attention to the Daffodil. What better flower to signal the beginning of Spring season?
So, where are daffodils native? How many different varieties or colors are available? Read on to learn about common characteristics of this flower and even a few fun facts about this plant known around the world.
Daffodil Plant Profile: Brief History
Once a simple wildflower, the Daffodil has been cultivated and bred with huge success throughout the years. Many people have long since cherished the daffodil for its cheerful presence, but our history focuses on Greek mythology and the tale of Narcissus. Are you wondering what the daffodil and Greek mythology have in common? Well, the Daffodil is divine after all.
From its humble beginnings, the daffodil can be traced back to early Greek civilization and attributed to a tale involving Greek Gods, Narcissus, Echo, and Nemesis. In brief, the myth states that Narcissus, granted divine handsomeness and immortality by the Gods, would keep his divine gifts as long as he never viewed his own reflection. Upon rejecting a wood nymph’s advances (Echo), he was later lured to his fate by Nemesis who tricked him into viewing his reflection. Narcissus fell in love with himself and thus withered away forever as divine punishment from the Gods. The myth states that he was replaced by a beautiful flower, the Narcissus.
The Greeks and Romans later used the daffodil and its flowers, stems, and bulbs for the so-called healing powers that they thought this perennial possessed. Ironically, the flowers and bulbs are poisonous to ingest and the sap is irritating to the skin. A beautiful flower with a deadly ending, just like Narcissus.
In addition to the Greek tales, daffodils are also known as the official flower of Wales. The arrival of daffodils in early Spring coincides with a Welsh holiday on March 1st. Furthermore, did you know there is a Puyallup Daffodil festival in Washington State (close to our hometown)? Here daffodils are used to adorn and decorate a festival and used in its parade. As you can see, this flower has a long and storied history from its humble beginnings to the mass commercial empire in bulb production it has become today.
“The Divine Daffodil” Plant Profile
|Common/Trade Name||Daffodil, Narcissus, or Jonquil|
|Botanical/Scientific Name||Narcissus sp.|
|Types||Generally, there are 12 recognized divisions with varieties in each: Trumpet Daffodils, Large-Cupped Daffodils, Small-Cupped Daffodils, Double Daffodils, Triandrus hybrids, Cyclamineus hybrids, Jonquilla hybrids, Tazetta Daffodils, Tazetta hybrids, Poeticus Daffodils, Split-Corona hybrids, and Tete-a-tete/ Jumblie hybrids.|
|Zones||-Sunset= A2, A3, 1-24 mostly.|
-USDA= Zones 3 to 9.
|General Information||Some flowers can be fragrant and leaves can be either flat and straight or narrow and rushlike. Great for container growing, below trees and shrubs, along walkways and borders, clumpings or singles, near water, and in rock gardens. If planted to be used for cut flowers, be sure to put in their own vase as the stems release a substance that causes other flowers in the same vase to wilt. When buying bulbs be sure to choose ones that feel solid and have some weight to them with no visual signs of damage.|
|Native Environment||Europe and North Africa.|
|Water Needs||Regular watering when they are growing and during bloom.|
|Mature Height/Width||Generally anywhere from 6" to 18" in height and at least 6" to 8" wide.|
|Bloom Time||Mostly late Winter and early Spring.|
|Flower Colors||Basically yellow and white with many variations on this with orange, red, apricot, pink, and cream.|
|Number of Varieties||12 general divisions and other varieties and hybrids too.|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun while blooming and partial shade afterwards.|
|Fertilize?||Not really. Once the bulbs are planted, they require very little attention or maintenance. Make sure though that the soil is well drained, but any soil will do.|
|Plant Spacing||Single or in groups, they will need 6" to 8" apart.|
|Suggested Companion Plant/s||Tulips, Grape Hyacinth, Alyssum, other late winter to early Spring blooming plants, like annual Primroses or Pansies. Great for planting underneath deciduous trees where they will get full sun while growing and blooming, and then filtered sun when the tree has leafed out|
|Maintenance Level||-None to little needed. Plant them in the late summer to start of fall.|
- Plant them twice as deep as they are tall; typically 5-6 inches deep for taller species and 3-5 inches deep for smaller ones.
- You can remove spent flowers to keep the plant and area clean.
|Pest Susceptibility||-Mainly the only pest to really impact Daffodils is the Narcissus Bulb Fly. The hatched grubs (basically a worm) eat into the bulb devouring the inner tissues.|
- Check for any damage when buying, like softness or light-weight.
- To prevent the Narcissus Bulb Fly, be sure to cultivate and mulch around the bulbs after the flower is gone and the leaves have died down and removed.
- Not a problem with Moles or Deer.
|Poisonous to Pets?||Yes, they contain poisonous alkaloids that can cause vomiting, excessive salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, tremors and heart problems. The bulbs are the most dangerous part of the plant.|
|Edible for Humans?||No. Same as for your pets, with the symptoms subsiding after 3+ hours.|
|Fun (or historical) Facts||- Clumps need to be separated every 3-5 years at least 6-weeks after flowering.|
- Don't cut back leaves until they have actually browned and died to the ground so bulbs can rebuild its energy for next year.
- They increase in number from year to year.
- Squirrels, Moles, and Deer won't eat them.
- Doesn't need watering in the Summer.
Daffodil Plant Profile: Conclusion
Make sure to stop and take notice of the beautiful daffodils in your garden, your local parks, or anywhere else these sunny perennials have decided to pop up and grace us with their beauty. We like to think of how this flower has inspired poets, scholars, countries and parade organizers throughout the years with its grace and cheerful disposition. Every Spring, the divine daffodil makes its presence known as both a welcome and familiar guest.
Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading and we hope we inspired you or educated you in some way. For information about mulching for the upcoming spring season, listen to our podcasts or check out either of our previous posts about how to mulch anytime of year or 7 best reasons mulching your garden is beneficial. Make sure to watch for our next post which will be a second plant profile on Clover. In next week’s blog post, we offer tips and advice on getting your garden ready for Spring with our list of the top 5 spring priorities for your garden.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments anytime, we would love to help.
~ Sean and Allison
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