Common name : Daffodil
Family : Amaryllidaceae
A bulbous soft wooded perennial with around 50 species and countless cultivars, the Narcissus is the archetypal spring flower in cool climate gardens.
With a sheath of mid-green strap shaped or cylindrical leaves, these plants are most notable for their distinctive flowers. These have 6 flattened petals surrounding a central corona (or cup or trumpet).
Flower colours range from white through creams to yellow and the corona is often of a contrasting colour. Flowering time varies according to the species and cultivar, but can be from autumn until early summer.
Most species tolerate a range of soils but prefer those that are moderately fertile and well drained soils. They thrive in full sun or partial shade and are hardy down to -15 degrees C.
Narcissus can be grown in borders or containers and are often naturalised in grass or lawns.
They are striking planted in clumps and in massed plantings in prominent positions. Their bold colours contrast well with darker foliage plants.
Bulbs should be planted in autumn at about one and a half times their own depth.
Late flowering cultivars should be watered in dry spring weather, otherwise flowers may abort. Use a general purpose fertiliser to establish plants but try a low nitrogen, high potassium fertiliser to encourage flowers if not performing well.
Dead-head after flowering and allow leaves to die back naturally, this encourages the storage of energy in the bulb. Lift and divide clumps when they become congested and flowering becomes sparse.
May suffer from narcissus eelworm, narcissus basal rot and other fungal infections.
Propagate by seed (cutivars do not come true) or by separating and replanting bulb offsets as leaves die off in early summer.
Brickell C (ed), 1998, the Royal Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants Dorling Kindersley, London.
Brown, K, 2004, Bulbs for All Seasons, Aquamarine, London.
Martin Cole has been an avid gardener for more than 20 years and loves to talk and write about gardening. In 2006 he was a finalist in the BBC Gardener of the Year competition.
He previously lived in London and Sydney, Australia, where he took a diploma course in Horticultural studies and is now based in North Berwick in Scotland. He founded GardeningStepbyStep.com in 2012. The website is aimed at everybody who has been bitten by the gardening bug and wants to know more.
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Check out my comprehensive step by step guide, with plain language explanations and ultra-useful images and illustrations. This is for you if you love dahlias and want to the best out of the dahlias you grow.