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Narcissus

Daffodil, Jonquil, Narcissus
Amaryllidaceae
Bulbs and bulblike plants, Flowers

Beyond their fascinating variety in flower form and color, these natives of Europe and North Africa offer numerous appealing traits. They are permanent, increasing from year to year; they stand up to cold (most are hardy to –30°F/–34°C) and heat; and they are useful in many garden situations. Given minimum care at planting, they thrive with virtually no further attention. These plants do not require summer watering (but will take it), need only infrequent division (and will even survive without it), and are totally unappetizing to gophers and deer. They bloom in late winter or spring. All plants known by the names “daffodil,” “narcissus,” and “jonquil” are properly Narcissus.

Flowers may be borne singly or in clusters. Colors are basically yellow and white, but there are many variations: shades of orange, red, apricot, pink, cream. Some are fragrant. Leaves may be straight and flat (strap shaped) or narrow and rushlike.

Use them among trees and flowering shrubs, in groundcover plantings, near water, in rock gardens, or in borders. Naturalize them in sweeping drifts where space is available.

Narcissus, Bulbocodium hybrids

Hoop petticoat flowers; small, mostly trumpet with almost threadlike perianth segments. Varieties include ‘Golden Bells’ (yellow), ‘Kenellis’ (white segments with light yellow cup), and ‘Spoirot’ (white).

Narcissus, Cyclamineus hybrids

Early bloomers with one flower per stem. Perianth segments are strongly recurved. Yellow ‘February Gold’ is best known. Yellow ‘Rapture’ has an especially long trumpet. ‘Jack Snipe’ and ‘Wisley’ have white segments and yellow trumpets.

Narcissus, Double daffodil ‘Tahiti’ (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic)
Narcissus, Double daffodil ‘Tahiti’ (photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic)

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Narcissus, Double daffodils

The cup has segments that are separate rather than joined together. The flower looks like a peony rather than a typical daffodil. One flower or more per stem. Examples are ‘Delnashaugh’ and ‘My Story’ (white perianth segments, pink cup segments), ‘Tahiti’ (yellow segments, red cup), and ‘Manly’ (white segments, yellow cup).

Narcissus, Jonquilla hybrids

Each stem bears two to four small, sweetly fragrant flowers; the foliage is often rushlike. Choices include ‘Sweet Smiles’ (white segments, pink cup); ‘Pipit’ (yellow segments, white cup); ‘Sun Disc’ and ‘Quail’ (solid yellow).

Narcissus, Large-cupped daffodils

The cup is shorter than the perianth segments, but is always more than one-third their length; one flower per stem. Varieties include ‘Stainless’ (white); ‘Carlton’ and ‘Saint Keverne’ (both yellow). Varieties with white perianth segments and colored cup include ‘Ice Follies’ (yellow cup); ‘Accent’, ‘Salome’ (pink cup); ‘Fragrant Rose’ (reddish pink cup); ‘Redhill’ (reddish orange cup). ‘Ambergate’, ‘Ceylon’, and ‘Fortissimo’ all have yellow perianth segments and an orange or red cup. Those with yellow segments and white cup include ‘Fellows Favorite’ and ‘Altun Ha’.

Narcissus, Poeticus daffodils

Perianth segments are white; the very short, broad cup is in a contrasting color, usually with red edges. Very fragrant. ‘Actaea’ and ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ are favorites.

Narcissus, Tazetta daffodils and Tazetta hybrids

Early-blooming, cluster-flowering types popularly known by the name “narcissus.” Each stem bears four to eight or more very fragrant flowers with a short cup. Many have white perianth segments and a yellow cup, but there are other color combinations. N. tazetta ‘Orientalis’, Chinese sacred lily, has light yellow segments and a darker yellow cup. ‘Paper White’ is pure white; ‘Geranium’ has white segments and an orange cup; ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’ has yellow segments and an orange cup. Newer varieties include ‘Falconet’ and ‘Scarlet Gem’ (yellow segments, orange cup). Tazettas are often grown indoors in bowls of pebbles and water (keep cool until growth is well along, then gradually bring into bright light).

Narcissus, Triandrus hybrids

Cup is at least two-thirds the length of the perianth segments; there are several flowers to each stem. White ‘Thalia’ is an old favorite. Others include ‘Hawera’ (yellow) and ‘Kate Heath’ (white segments, pink cup).

Narcissus, Trumpet daffodils

The trumpet is as long as or longer than the surrounding perianth segments; one flower to each stem. Best known are yellow ‘King Alfred’ and ‘Dutch Master’, but newer yellow-flowered ‘Marieke’ and ‘Primeur’ are superior. Pure white varieties include ‘Mount Hood’. Bicolors with white segments and yellow trumpet include ‘Bravoure’, ‘Las Vegas’, and ‘Topolino’; among those with yellow segments and some white on the trumpet are ‘Pistachio’ and ‘Pay Day’.

‘Tête-à-Tête’

Yellow rock garden dwarf to about 6 in. high; one flower per stem.

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