Welcome to Daffodilandia!

Welcome! Come in! Visit with us in this colorful world of daffodils. It is a place offering an array of colors and forms, as hybridizers and cultivators from the Netherlands and Belgium to the massive farms in the United States and Canada, to the specialized nurseries near walled castles in England, and a few other nations worldwide have been busy in creating and recreating the look and habit and beauty of the once mainly-sunshiny yellows of the trumpet-shaped flowers of the heralder of Spring.

In Fall, I scour local nurseries and big-box stores and even small grocery stores in search of new-looking daffodils. I resort to ordering online some unique daffodils. I have planted enough trumpet-shaped lemon-yellow daffodils. I need a bit more of the different-looking ones. Those with white or beige petals, with or without distinctive central cups; the orange-tinged ones; the odd lime-green ones. Anything really other than the usual kind. I also look for the doubles or the triple-flowering ones. I want the dwarf varieties, too.

Daffodils (Narcissus) have come a long way from the usual bright yellow, trumpet, single flowers to colors of different shapes, sizes and color combinations.
(ctto: http://www.gurneys.com)

Over-enthusiasm and lack of knowledge on plants sometimes got the better of me. Once — some twenty years ago when I was just starting to garden — I was so ecstatic when I saw on the packaging a photo of a two-headed “daffodil.” I heard from our daycare lady (Ronda) that daffodils were very easy to grow, and each bulb would reward the gardener one big trumpet of yellow bloom. Ronda’s front garden had a profusion of yellow daffodils to greet us in the mornings in March when we dropped off our little children at her daycare. Anyway, this “daffodil” I saw at the local nursery store was not yellow. A blue one at that! The price tag was exorbitant, but I looked away and still had one bag of those bulbs brought to the sales clerk at the till. I quickly planted the bulbs of my extra-special “daffodils” in a nice pot and promptly displayed the pot right by our front doorstep. It deserved a very special place. Then I promptly buried the empty packaging bag in our recycling bin, to make sure I’d never be reminded of the price I paid or have my wife see the package and start a tirade on why I spent so much money on two bagged bulbs. I eagerly awaited for the emergence of the “daffodil” shoots and checked on this pot almost weekly until I saw my extremely-unique “daffodil” flowers in early summer. Yes, the bulbs flowered all right. In blue, almost lavender. And it was the ball-shaped rather than trumpet-shaped, with many concentric spikes. I was so proud of my unique blue “daffodils.” I took photos of my flowers using my Nikon camera that my father-in-law handed-down to me as a gift. I had the pictures developed (digital photography was unheard of at that time), and proudly showed Ronda my unique “daffodils.”

Ronda laughed at me, instead of salivating over the photos of my “blue daffodils.” She said she was sure those were not daffodils. She added that daffodils only bloom in spring, not in summer; that daffodils are yellow trumpets, not blue spiky balls; that daffodil bulbs are big (she showed me her clenched fist to indicate how big daffodil bulbs can get) not elongated and tiny (I showed her my two raised thumbs to indicate the size of the bulbs I bought from the nursery); and that daffodils are not expensive, like no more than $20 for a bag of 50 to 100 bulbs, not $9.99 for a bag with four puny bulbs in them.

From that humiliating chat with our daycare lady (Ronda), I actually became a much better, more informed gardener. I proceeded to borrow out many gardening and bulb books from nearby public libraries, read voluminous pages on home gardening as if I was preparing for my M.A. or PhD comprehensive exams, and searched and searched for the possible identity of my “blue daffodil.” I now think it was either AGAPANTHUS or ALLIUM “Caeruleum.” They’re no daffodils.

Various allium blooms (ctto: http://www.midwestliving.com)

That was the start of my love for Alliums, not so much for Agapanthus. Fast forward ten or so years later. My front garden has had those Sputnik-like blooms of alliums every year, from marble-sized Allium afflutensis to golf-sized Allium caeruleum, even to football-sized Allium giganteum “Globemaster.” Unfortunately, unlike hardy daffodils, my giant alliums have not been as long-lived or able to naturalize (spread and bulk up); allium with the smaller flowers survive and flower better than the impressive giant ones (A. Christophii, A. Gladiator, A. White Giant, A. Purple Sensation, A. Mt Everest, and A. giganteum). I have to buy every year A. Globemaster to have the biggest of the round spiky flowers grace our front garden.

Anyway, I digress from the subject of this blog….

There are about 50 species of daffodils or Narcissus, all are in the genus Narcissus, which in turn is part of the Amaryllis family. With over 30,000 cultivars, colors now range from yellow, white and orange, but also come in some reds, pinks or even greens. There are miniatures growing to less than a foot tall, and tall varieties that tower a little over two feet. If you plant different varieties you can enjoy daffodils throughout spring in your garden. You can also grow history. There are cultivars of daffodils that originated in the 17th and 18th century, according to The American Daffodil Society.

Daffodils are some of the easiest bulbs to grow because rodents, gophers, and squirrels, and deer (if you have deer problem in your area) find them poisonous. To avoid those critters from bothering our tulips, for example, we plant tulip bulbs underneath daffodil bulbs. Daffodils are also relatively drought resistant, and they naturalize easily if the bulbs are given enough drainage, space, and little disturbance. Daffodils can be naturalized under deciduous trees since they still manage to bloom with just morning or afternoon sun. Plant them in groups of five or more bulbs since they look best in clumps rather than rows. The info on the packages of daffodils even sometimes suggest to simply toss handfuls of bulbs onto the planting area and then plant them where they fall — I guess this is an oversimplified method of planting daffodils. Or, to highlight how easy they are planted in the garden.

We plant our bulbs twice as deep as their diameter, roughly 4 inches below the ground, the deeper the better for naturalizing. Planted more deeply, the daffodils avoid being damaged when we plant annuals around or even above their spot. We have to maximize the use of real estate in our crowded and small garden. Planting time for daffodils is September through November, or even in December if frost is delayed and has not hardened the surface of the ground.

Low-nitrogen fertilizer and bonemeal dug into the soil at planting time, and then when the first green shoots emerge, then when the bulbs flower, and finally in the fall when rain begins, give daffodils more than sufficient nutrients. Many times, I must admit, we forget to fertilize yet our daffodils don’t seem to show signs of retaliation. Watch out though: too much nitrogen (the nutrient needed by leaves) might ensure leafy plants but risk decline, even no blooms next spring. I guess moderation is the key, as in most other things in life.

When we forget to fertilize our daffodils, they are very forgiving, and still reward us with blooms though less in number and stature

I think one drawback of daffodils is the yellowing of the big, long rabbit-ears-shaped leaves after the blooms. But since the foliage provides food to the bulb to enable it to flower the following year, we try cutting the leaves to about 2 inches long to allow the cut-over leaves to continue to photosynthesize and maintain growth of the bulbs for next year’s blooms. Yes, we even allow the daffodil plants to grow until they die off when summer comes, as this will allow bulbs to store energy and nutrients for the next spring blooms. In our garden we simply hide the ratty leaves behind the perennials that have started their growing/blooming cycles. Or we plant annuals to hide the daffodils’ dying foliage, and then finally yank out the browned daffodil leaves in midsummer to prevent them from becoming hiding places for slugs, snails, and other vegetarian pests.

Daffodils look gorgeous in flower arrangement, but wait an hour or two before adding the daffodils to the vase with other flowers, to prevent the daffodil sap from oozing and shortening the vase life of the other blooms.

Daffodils look impressive in the vase. But learn some tricks. After being cut, daffodil stems release a clear sap that can shorten the life of other flowers in the arrangement. Taking a few minutes to properly conditioning daffodils eliminates this risk. Cut the stems of freshly picked daffodils to the approximate length they will be in the vase. Then place them (by themselves) in a clean container of cool water for at least an hour. During this time, most of the sap will leak out into the water. After an hour has passed, remove the stems and discard the water. Feel free to add these conditioned daffodils to mixed arrangements. If you need to re-cut the stems, you can recondition them or not worry about the small amount of sap being released.

Beautifully bright and light, daffodils are the birth flower of the month of March. Daffodils, according to my research, are rich with symbolism.

Daffodils are otherwise known as Narcissus. Remember Narcissu in Greek mythology? I hope no one has described you as narcissistic. Narcissu was a young hunter who had been blessed with drop-dead-gorgeous attributes and a water nymph fell madly in love with him. But he could not return her affections because of his intense vanity. In all her hurt and love for the pretty guy, the nymph cast a spell on him, causing him to be so enchanted by his own likeness mirrored in the water’s edge that he eventually faded away at the very spot (perhaps he fell into and drowned in the waters), leaving only daffodils in his wake.

But for most people, daffodils, as one of the first spring flowers to bloom, represent rebirth and hope. They signify new life and resilience as they are strong little survivors who have weathered the winter storms.

The daffodils’ original cheerful bright yellow and white colours have become symbols of positivity, joy, life and being alive. The American Cancer Society uses daffodils as its symbol as these flowers are ones of hope and rebirth, and hopefully for a cure.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, the daffodil has become Wales’ national flower. Its flowering coincides with the first of March and St. David’s Day. St. David is Wales’ patron saint and the flowers’ faithful blossoming year after year is equated to David’s faithfulness to his people. And the famous English poet William Wordsworth wrote a poem about daffodils, “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,” an homage to fields of these happy flowers.

And across the Pacific Ocean, in China, daffodils bloom around Chinese New Year and are a symbol of good fortune, good luck and prosperity. If these flowers bloom exactly on Chinese New Year, they mean good luck for the whole year ahead.

Now, won’t you want to have daffodils this March 1st or this Chinese New Year? And maybe grow several bulbs — if you haven’t yet — for next Spring’s blooms and the years thereafter? You’ll love daffodils, maybe not as much as Narcissu loved himself, but you’ll love these flowers that can surely bring sunshine into your homes even amidst, or more so during this horrible, extended Covid pandemic.

Welcome! Come in! Visit with us in this colorful world of daffodils. It is a place offering an array of colors and forms, as hybridizers and cultivators from the Netherlands and Belgium to the massive farms in the United States and Canada, to the specialized nurseries near walled castles in England, and a few other […]

Welcome! Come in! Visit with us in this colorful world of daffodils. It is a place offering an array of colors and forms, as hybridizers and cultivators from the Netherlands and Belgium to the massive farms in the United States and Canada, to the specialized nurseries near walled castles in England, and a few other nations worldwide have been busy in creating and recreating the look and habit and beauty of the once mainly-sunshiny yellows of the trumpet-shaped flowers of the heralder of Spring.

In Fall, I scour local nurseries and big-box stores and even small grocery stores in search of new-looking daffodils. I resort to ordering online some unique daffodils. I have planted enough trumpet-shaped lemon-yellow daffodils. I need a bit more of the different-looking ones. Those with white or beige petals, with or without distinctive central cups; the orange-tinged ones; the odd lime-green ones. Anything really other than the usual kind. I also look for the doubles or the triple-flowering ones. I want the dwarf varieties, too.

Daffodils (Narcissus) have come a long way from the usual bright yellow, trumpet, single flowers to colors of different shapes, sizes and color combinations.
(ctto: http://www.gurneys.com)

Over-enthusiasm and lack of knowledge on plants sometimes got the better of me. Once — some twenty years ago when I was just starting to garden — I was so ecstatic when I saw on the packaging a photo of a two-headed “daffodil.” I heard from our daycare lady (Ronda) that daffodils were very easy to grow, and each bulb would reward the gardener one big trumpet of yellow bloom. Ronda’s front garden had a profusion of yellow daffodils to greet us in the mornings in March when we dropped off our little children at her daycare. Anyway, this “daffodil” I saw at the local nursery store was not yellow. A blue one at that! The price tag was exorbitant, but I looked away and still had one bag of those bulbs brought to the sales clerk at the till. I quickly planted the bulbs of my extra-special “daffodils” in a nice pot and promptly displayed the pot right by our front doorstep. It deserved a very special place. Then I promptly buried the empty packaging bag in our recycling bin, to make sure I’d never be reminded of the price I paid or have my wife see the package and start a tirade on why I spent so much money on two bagged bulbs. I eagerly awaited for the emergence of the “daffodil” shoots and checked on this pot almost weekly until I saw my extremely-unique “daffodil” flowers in early summer. Yes, the bulbs flowered all right. In blue, almost lavender. And it was the ball-shaped rather than trumpet-shaped, with many concentric spikes. I was so proud of my unique blue “daffodils.” I took photos of my flowers using my Nikon camera that my father-in-law handed-down to me as a gift. I had the pictures developed (digital photography was unheard of at that time), and proudly showed Ronda my unique “daffodils.”

Ronda laughed at me, instead of salivating over the photos of my “blue daffodils.” She said she was sure those were not daffodils. She added that daffodils only bloom in spring, not in summer; that daffodils are yellow trumpets, not blue spiky balls; that daffodil bulbs are big (she showed me her clenched fist to indicate how big daffodil bulbs can get) not elongated and tiny (I showed her my two raised thumbs to indicate the size of the bulbs I bought from the nursery); and that daffodils are not expensive, like no more than $20 for a bag of 50 to 100 bulbs, not $9.99 for a bag with four puny bulbs in them.

From that humiliating chat with our daycare lady (Ronda), I actually became a much better, more informed gardener. I proceeded to borrow out many gardening and bulb books from nearby public libraries, read voluminous pages on home gardening as if I was preparing for my M.A. or PhD comprehensive exams, and searched and searched for the possible identity of my “blue daffodil.” I now think it was either AGAPANTHUS or ALLIUM “Caeruleum.” They’re no daffodils.

Various allium blooms (ctto: http://www.midwestliving.com)

That was the start of my love for Alliums, not so much for Agapanthus. Fast forward ten or so years later. My front garden has had those Sputnik-like blooms of alliums every year, from marble-sized Allium afflutensis to golf-sized Allium caeruleum, even to football-sized Allium giganteum “Globemaster.” Unfortunately, unlike hardy daffodils, my giant alliums have not been as long-lived or able to naturalize (spread and bulk up); allium with the smaller flowers survive and flower better than the impressive giant ones (A. Christophii, A. Gladiator, A. White Giant, A. Purple Sensation, A. Mt Everest, and A. giganteum). I have to buy every year A. Globemaster to have the biggest of the round spiky flowers grace our front garden.

Anyway, I digress from the subject of this blog….

There are about 50 species of daffodils or Narcissus, all are in the genus Narcissus, which in turn is part of the Amaryllis family. With over 30,000 cultivars, colors now range from yellow, white and orange, but also come in some reds, pinks or even greens. There are miniatures growing to less than a foot tall, and tall varieties that tower a little over two feet. If you plant different varieties you can enjoy daffodils throughout spring in your garden. You can also grow history. There are cultivars of daffodils that originated in the 17th and 18th century, according to The American Daffodil Society.

Daffodils are some of the easiest bulbs to grow because rodents, gophers, and squirrels, and deer (if you have deer problem in your area) find them poisonous. To avoid those critters from bothering our tulips, for example, we plant tulip bulbs underneath daffodil bulbs. Daffodils are also relatively drought resistant, and they naturalize easily if the bulbs are given enough drainage, space, and little disturbance. Daffodils can be naturalized under deciduous trees since they still manage to bloom with just morning or afternoon sun. Plant them in groups of five or more bulbs since they look best in clumps rather than rows. The info on the packages of daffodils even sometimes suggest to simply toss handfuls of bulbs onto the planting area and then plant them where they fall — I guess this is an oversimplified method of planting daffodils. Or, to highlight how easy they are planted in the garden.

We plant our bulbs twice as deep as their diameter, roughly 4 inches below the ground, the deeper the better for naturalizing. Planted more deeply, the daffodils avoid being damaged when we plant annuals around or even above their spot. We have to maximize the use of real estate in our crowded and small garden. Planting time for daffodils is September through November, or even in December if frost is delayed and has not hardened the surface of the ground.

Low-nitrogen fertilizer and bonemeal dug into the soil at planting time, and then when the first green shoots emerge, then when the bulbs flower, and finally in the fall when rain begins, give daffodils more than sufficient nutrients. Many times, I must admit, we forget to fertilize yet our daffodils don’t seem to show signs of retaliation. Watch out though: too much nitrogen (the nutrient needed by leaves) might ensure leafy plants but risk decline, even no blooms next spring. I guess moderation is the key, as in most other things in life.

When we forget to fertilize our daffodils, they are very forgiving, and still reward us with blooms though less in number and stature

I think one drawback of daffodils is the yellowing of the big, long rabbit-ears-shaped leaves after the blooms. But since the foliage provides food to the bulb to enable it to flower the following year, we try cutting the leaves to about 2 inches long to allow the cut-over leaves to continue to photosynthesize and maintain growth of the bulbs for next year’s blooms. Yes, we even allow the daffodil plants to grow until they die off when summer comes, as this will allow bulbs to store energy and nutrients for the next spring blooms. In our garden we simply hide the ratty leaves behind the perennials that have started their growing/blooming cycles. Or we plant annuals to hide the daffodils’ dying foliage, and then finally yank out the browned daffodil leaves in midsummer to prevent them from becoming hiding places for slugs, snails, and other vegetarian pests.

Daffodils look gorgeous in flower arrangement, but wait an hour or two before adding the daffodils to the vase with other flowers, to prevent the daffodil sap from oozing and shortening the vase life of the other blooms.

Daffodils look impressive in the vase. But learn some tricks. After being cut, daffodil stems release a clear sap that can shorten the life of other flowers in the arrangement. Taking a few minutes to properly conditioning daffodils eliminates this risk. Cut the stems of freshly picked daffodils to the approximate length they will be in the vase. Then place them (by themselves) in a clean container of cool water for at least an hour. During this time, most of the sap will leak out into the water. After an hour has passed, remove the stems and discard the water. Feel free to add these conditioned daffodils to mixed arrangements. If you need to re-cut the stems, you can recondition them or not worry about the small amount of sap being released.

Beautifully bright and light, daffodils are the birth flower of the month of March. Daffodils, according to my research, are rich with symbolism.

Daffodils are otherwise known as Narcissus. Remember Narcissu in Greek mythology? I hope no one has described you as narcissistic. Narcissu was a young hunter who had been blessed with drop-dead-gorgeous attributes and a water nymph fell madly in love with him. But he could not return her affections because of his intense vanity. In all her hurt and love for the pretty guy, the nymph cast a spell on him, causing him to be so enchanted by his own likeness mirrored in the water’s edge that he eventually faded away at the very spot (perhaps he fell into and drowned in the waters), leaving only daffodils in his wake.

But for most people, daffodils, as one of the first spring flowers to bloom, represent rebirth and hope. They signify new life and resilience as they are strong little survivors who have weathered the winter storms.

The daffodils’ original cheerful bright yellow and white colours have become symbols of positivity, joy, life and being alive. The American Cancer Society uses daffodils as its symbol as these flowers are ones of hope and rebirth, and hopefully for a cure.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, the daffodil has become Wales’ national flower. Its flowering coincides with the first of March and St. David’s Day. St. David is Wales’ patron saint and the flowers’ faithful blossoming year after year is equated to David’s faithfulness to his people. And the famous English poet William Wordsworth wrote a poem about daffodils, “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,” an homage to fields of these happy flowers.

And across the Pacific Ocean, in China, daffodils bloom around Chinese New Year and are a symbol of good fortune, good luck and prosperity. If these flowers bloom exactly on Chinese New Year, they mean good luck for the whole year ahead.

Now, won’t you want to have daffodils this March 1st or this Chinese New Year? And maybe grow several bulbs — if you haven’t yet — for next Spring’s blooms and the years thereafter? You’ll love daffodils, maybe not as much as Narcissu loved himself, but you’ll love these flowers that can surely bring sunshine into your homes even amidst, or more so during this horrible, extended Covid pandemic.

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