What Is the Meaning of Jonquil Flowers?
The meaning of jonquil varies depending on whom you ask.
To gardeners, jonquils (Narcissus jonquilla) are spring bulbs that grow best within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 8, while botanists define jonquils as a subdivision of daffodils (Narcissus spp.). Some people even ascribe symbolic meaning or mythological traits to these springtime blooms.
However you define jonquils, they are fragrant and flashy flowers that will brighten dull garden beds and lift your spirits in the spring when most flowers have not yet bloomed.
The word jonquil means "little rush" and refers to the plant's grassy foliage.
Meanings and Symbolism of Jonquil Flowers
The meanings of jonquil flowers can be broken down into three main categories: the horticultural meaning, the botanical meaning and the symbolic or mythological meaning.
Horticultural Meaning of Jonquil
The horticultural meaning of jonquil refers to how this plant relates to or beautifies the garden. Jonquils are small, reaching just 12 inches in height with clusters of flowers that are less than 1 inch in length.
The flowers resemble tiny daffodils, but they typically have a shallower cup. The foliage is thinner and more grasslike than daffodil foliage, and it is dark green in color.
Jonquils are spring-flowering bulbs that emerge in mid-spring. They are typically grown in large plantings called drifts or masses that spread naturally over the years. Jonquils also grow well in pots or containers, and the bulbs can be forced to bloom indoors in winter.
Botanical Meaning of Jonquil
Jonquils belong to one of 13 subdivisions within the genus Narcissus. They resemble other Narcissus flowers in their general appearance, but there are also several differences between jonquils and their larger, showier cousins, the daffodil.
Symbolic Meaning of Jonquil
Jonquils belong to the genus Narcissus, which is named for a figure from Greek mythology who was so entranced by his own reflection that the gods turned him into a flower. Jonquil flowers and other narcissus flowers tend to nod, giving them the appearance of a face looking down at its reflection in a still pool of water, just like the Narcissus of mythology.
Jonquils have a symbolic meaning when placed in a bouquet. Jonquils can mean desire, sympathy, a declaration of affection or a plea for love. Another symbolic or spiritual jonquil flower meaning is forgiveness.
Gardening With Jonquil Flowers
Jonquils add beauty and meaning to a garden bed. However, they must be grown under the right conditions to make the most of them. When choosing a planting site, focus on:
- Sunlight: Jonquils must be grown in full sun or light shade in hotter climates.
- Soil: Jonquils perform best in loamy soil with average fertility. Avoid very rich and very poor soil.
- Drainage: Jonquils suffer from rot when grown in soggy soil, so choose a site with good drainage.
Plant jonquil bulbs in autumn two to four weeks before the first frost. They look best when grown in groups of three spaced 3 to 6 inches apart, which gives them a naturalistic appearance. Plant the bulbs at a depth of 3 to 5 inches.
Jonquils will naturalize over the years, creating drifts of delicate blooms. They only need to be divided every three to five years or whenever the plants become crowded and start blooming less.
All parts of the jonquil plant are poisonous, so use caution when handling the bulbs and flowers and plant them away from areas where children and pets play.
Sasha Degnan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Anthropology. Her written work has appeared in both online and print publications. She is a certified Master Gardener and dedicated plant enthusiast with decades of experience growing and propagating native and exotic plant varieties.