By Kat Yares, Garden Guides Contributor
Daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus and are one of the most beautiful and popular bulb flowers in any garden. Other names for the daffodil include jonquil and white narcissi. One of the first flowers to make their appearance in early spring, the daffodil signifies the end of winter. Daffodils have a trumpet shaped center against star shaped petals. The trumpet is often a contrasting color to the star. Daffodils are generally around 2 feet tall with 5-inch blooms.
Daffodils, like most flowers, prefer a well-drained, sunny location. The soil should be slightly acidic and include composted organic matter or manure.
Daffodils have been recorded in history as early as the second century B.C. They are believed to have been native to the area around the Mediterranean Sea and were an important flower to both the Greeks and the Romans. Many homesteaders in the westward migration of the early United States felt that daffodils were an essential plant to have on the homestead. Many abandoned home sites can be recognized today by the clumps of daffodils growing in the fields.
Choosing a Variety
Daffodils come in a variety of color combinations. Most all daffodils have a majority of yellow, with different shades of yellows, golds and whites as contrast. Oranges, blues and greens are grown, but are limited in number of bulbs produced and sold. Miniature daffodils that grow only 2 inches tall are available for show or for container growing in the home.
Daffodil bulbs are planted in the late fall. Use a trowel to dig a hole 2 inches deeper than the size of the bulb. Take care to plant the bulb top up and cover with at least 2 inches of prepared soil. Once all bulbs have been planted, water the area thoroughly to remove any air pockets remaining in the soil around the bulbs.
Daffodils need water every week during their growing season. Water, if needed, to provide approximately 1 inch of moisture weekly. Apply mulch around the plants to preserve moisture. After blooming, cut the foliage back when the leaves begin to yellow. Dig up the bulbs in early summer, wash and let dry thoroughly. Store the bulbs in burlap or potato sacks in a well ventilated area until time to plant in the fall. Alternately, the bulbs can be left in the ground and dug up for dividing every 5 years. This method may produce fewer flowers, but is also less work for the gardener.