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October 8th 2017

More reasons to love narcissus


Written by
Team Floret

Near the top of my to-do list every fall is to tuck in a few more daffodil bulbs into my garden. As one of the first flowers to bloom in abundance each spring, daffodils and narcissus are always a welcome sight after many months of gray winter days.

These versatile, beautiful blooms are a must-have for any cutting garden. Yet, you mention daffodils, many floral designers will cringe. This is often because they instantly think of the the traditional big yellow trumpet bell blooms. But, trust me, there is a world of beauty beyond the bags of bright yellow King Alfred cultivars commonly found at most garden centers.

Daffodils and narcissus come in so many incredible shapes, forms, scents and sizes and make fantastic additions to seasonal floral designs. A couple years ago, I went a little overboard while ordering different varieties in preparation for writing and shooting photos for my book, Cut Flower Garden. When spring finally rolled around, all of the time it took to plant all of those bulbs was totally worth it, as I am rewarded with armloads of beautiful and unusual blooms every spring.

Staples of the spring cutting garden

Here at Floret we grow dozens of beautiful varieties and each year expand our collection. This diverse flower group is rarely plagued by pests or disease, plus deer and other varmints usually steer clear of them. Narcissus come in a wide range of different shapes and sizes and many even have a sweet scent.

Fall-planted bulbs produce hardy, easy to grow spring flowers that thrive in both sun or part shade. As an added bonus, bulbs multiply rapidly, and in just 2 to 3 years after planting, you’ll have at least double what you started with, making them reliable workhorses in the early spring garden.

After a long, super busy summer, we’re all ready for some much-needed rest. But I know that if we can just power through a little longer and tuck the bulbs in this fall, the reward next spring will be worth it.

Planting Tips

There are two different methods for growing these cheerful spring bloomers, depending on whether you simply want to add color to your spring landscape or harvest them in abundance as cut flowers. No matter how you plant them, be sure to pick a spot that gets at least partial sun and doesn’t have standing water, since really wet soils will encourage bulbs to rot.

In the garden, narcissus make the most impact when planted en masse. For a dazzling display, I recommend ditching the bulb planter and instead plant groupings of at least 10-20 bulbs.

Simply dig out a generous circle of soil, 6-8 inches deep, mix in a little bulb fertilizer, compost, and then plant your bulbs at a depth 3 to 4 times the bulb’s height, and as far apart as they are wide. Once your bulbs are securely in place, water deeply and then refill the hole with the soil you removed earlier. Add a few inches of well rotted compost on top to act as a mulch. Be sure to insert some type of stake so you remember where you planted them.

If your intention is to grow narcissus solely for cutting then you can follow this same method but plant bulbs in long trenched rows for easy harvesting.

Harvest & Care Tips

In the spring, harvest blooms that haven’t fully opened. If picked when the buds are fully colored, but still slightly nodding (also known as the “goose neck” stage) a solid week of vase life can be expected. Wear gloves when harvesting narcissus as they ooze a slimy sap that can cause skin irritation.

This slimy sap is also toxic to other flowers and will shorten their vase life significantly. To avoid affecting other blooms in an arrangement, you’ll need to “condition” the narcissus first. To do this, place freshly cut stems into cool water, on their own, for 2 to 3 hours; during that time, the stem ends will callus over and the toxic sap will stop flowing. After that, don’t recut the narcissus stems when adding them to arrangements because the sap will start leaking all over again.

Of course, you can create an arrangement solely of narcissus, either just one variety or several, and the sap won’t be an issue.

Floret's Favorites

Over the years we have conducted trials on dozens of different narcissus looking for varieties that have exceptional qualities: good weather resistance, fragrance, unique coloring, long vase life, and beautiful flower forms.

Here are a few of my latest favorites:

Narcissus ‘Delnashaugh’ The regal flowers on this beautiful variety conjure images of water lilies. The frilly, peachy centers look like layers of petticoats.  Tall, sturdy stems support these treasures in the vase or garden.

Narcissus ‘White Lion’ The large fragrant blooms of this magnificent variety are made up of multiple layers of buttercream and ivory petals. Each ruffled bloom sits atop a tall, strong stem.

Narcissus ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’ One of the latest varieties to flower, this cheery bloomer has multiple buttercream blossoms that sit atop tall stems. They are highly scented and combine well with anything.

Narcissus ‘Extravaganza’ This spectacular bloomer is named for its full orange-pink trumpet strikingly framed by ivory white flower petals. There are few flowers that embrace spring’s arrival like ‘Extravaganza.’

‘Pink Charm’ The pretty white petals contrast beautifully with the large central cup and the edges of which look like they were dipped in the perfect shade of peachy-pink.

‘Replete’ The super ruffled flowers of this fragrant variety always remind me of fancy ladies in petticoats. A showy blend of cream, peachy pink, and soft orange. One of the best on the market and a must grow for flower arranging.

You can find all of the above, plus more new narcissus offerings in the Floret Shop. 

8 Comments

  1. Ruth on

    Hi Floret Team, I read the post with great interest and was wondering what tool or machine you use to dig the rows for planting. I didn’t find any information in the book neither but would love some information to improve my efficiency :)
    Thank you!

    Reply
  2. April Holder on

    I just read this post as well as the previous on tulips and was wondering if you could clarify harvesting the bulbs. For the tulips can you store and re-plant the same bulb? And second do you dig up the narcissus bulbs and separate and re-plant or leave them in the ground over winter?

    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      Hi April,
      As flower farmers, we harvest tulips bulb and all. When it comes to sell them, we cut off the bulb and compost it. While you could try to save and re-plant the bulbs, they never flower as well the second year, which unfortunately just doesn’t cut it when it comes to commercial production. As for narcissus, we leave the bulbs in the ground over winter.

  3. Marcia on

    Sad, but not surprised, to discover the tulips had sold out in a day. I am a big fan of tulips, preferring the earliest bloomers to shake off the winter doldrums.

    Reply
  4. Laura on

    Very interesting about the sap issue; I haven’t tried cutting them yet so I didn’t know this! Maybe a stupid question, but – what is the difference between the names narcissus and daffodil? (I thought they were essentially the same thing?)

    Reply
  5. Sarah H. on

    Question: I bought your Replete narcissus and would like to know if they will grow in a box. I have a large wooden box, about 5 feet long and 3.5 feet deep, and it is already lined and contains rich, fertilized soil. Will they grow in that or should I plant them only in the ground?

    Reply
  6. Meenakshi Singh on

    Pretty flowers make each person’s life more significant and your blog is one of those places where I find motivation from designing beautiful and fresh flowers for my clients. I like the post very much. Keep it up and helping us. https://www.way2flowers.com

    Reply
  7. Madison Puch on

    These are all so beautiful! Mine from last year were champion bloomers, my mom adored them!

    Reply

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