Time to order your daffodils! Yes, there is record heat this summer in many parts of the Southwest but I want you to think about spring! Cool crisp spring.
All year long I have been calling your attention to National and International celebrations, and why should this post be any different? August 20 is World Daffodil Day. And we are in a fine part of the world to join in this celebration!
The plant called “daffodil” is kissing cousin to narcissus. In fact – the scientific name of daffodil is Narcissus jonquilla. Lesser known “daffodils” are Narcissus cyclamineus and Narcissus poeticus. The bulbs sold as “narcissus” are generally Narcissus tazetta, also called paperwhites.
What About that Name?
If you remember Greek mythology, Narcissus was the youth so taken with his own beauty that he spent hours gazing at his reflection in pools of still water. This story gives us two pieces of information. The flowers are going to be fairly stunning, and they thrive in the hot, dry, rocky, alkaline hillsides and Mediterranean climate of Greece (where snow sometimes falls in winter). A climate and landscape somewhat like our own. With a caveat.
The original, “species” daffodils are native to that “Greek” area and thus well adapted to a climate like our own. But as daffodils were moved around the world and plant breeders selected for various colors, petal shapes and cold hardiness. So now, some daffodils are more adapted than others. Thus as you order daffodils, be sure you get those rated for your zone. Some will not do well in the Low Desert of the Southwest.
What ever you call them, daffodils are easy to care for, delightful to enjoy, and they should come back year after year with little fuss or worry on your part.
Order narcissus now for planting October first through Thanksgiving. Flowering begins anywhere from January to March, depending on how cold the soil gets this winter. To enjoy a succession of blooms, order a number of bulbs and plant them at two week intervals.
Help A Local Non-Profit at no Additional Cost to You
If you order your daffodils from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs “Blooming Bucks” you can help the local Southwestern Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute – at no additional cost to you! Here is the link – to Brent & Becky’s – just scroll down and click on the Tierra del Sol Institute name. After that it will take you on to their website. Then, when you order, Brent & Becky’s will donate to Tierra del Sol. And thank you!
Now back to daffodils –
Plant the Right Depth
Depth is important to bulbs. The best rule of thumb is that the bulb should be planted two to three times as deep as the bulb itself is tall. Thus a 2 inch bulb (from rootlets to pointy tip) should be planted with the growing tip 4 to 6 inches below the top of the soil. This bulb may grow a plant that is a foot tall – but we are just looking at the bulb itself when planting it.
Plant in filtered light, like under a mesquite or – in the upper elevations an apple tree or similar deciduous tree. In Low Desert, consider on the east side of home or shrubs. In general avoid planting where the bulbs will get baking afternoon sun in summer. They will not come back from that.
Sandy soils are best so that bulbs will not get rot in the summer when they are dormant. I have them scattered around the yard in patches where I have added sand to the rocky caliche soil I have.
Allow the soil to dry fairly well between waterings, but not bone dry. Some drying allows oxygen to filter into the soil, and the bulbs need plenty of oxygen for emerging from dormancy and flowering. Once bulbs show tiny green shoots, keep the soil a little more moist. They will reward the extra attention with a longer season of flowering. Drainage and soil air flow is why I add sand to my soil.
Once bulbs are done blooming, leave the leaves! Plants need leaves to make energy for next years bloom. Let old leaves turn brown to the ground before you remove them. Yes, it may not look “pretty” but you will better appreciate all the blooms next year.
Bulbs can benefit from a “bloom fertilizer” when they first start to bloom. Every two weeks is fine. As bloom winds down, use a general purpose fertilizer at least once afterwards. This will help them bloom better next year. Or – if you forget – they will survive, just not bloom so well. Remember, they lived out in the wild for years. Gardening and growing these beauties is for you to enjoy – not for you to have another thing to worry about and fuss over and beat yourself up if you forget a little fertilizer.
Do take time to stop and smell the flowers! Fair warning – don’t cut any daffodil blooms for indoors until they pass the spousal sniff test. My spouse hates the smell of daffodils, but the cats and I adore the scent.
As always – enjoy!