Flowers

Daffodils Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Narcissus” Flowers

Complete guide to Daffodils for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Narcissus” Flowers

Even when we have our home or gardens filled with baby plants, we can always find more room for another family member. As passionate gardeners ourselves, we empathize with your urge to have more companions around, especially when they come with fragrant and eye-catching flowers. And these flowering plants are truly one of a kind!

Nowadays, Daffodils are one of the most iconic ornamental houseplants for the warm months. These beauties bring a dash of personality to many gardens both private and public, but they also make for excellent cut flowers or potted. However, Daffodils were very popular in the past too, not only for their gorgeous appearance but also their numerous medicinal properties.

Although Daffodils contain toxic alkaloids, they have been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for various diseases including cancer. These plants carry a big potential for the medical industry, having numerous beneficial properties like antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antimalarial, or hypotensive. An alkaloid called galantamine is actively used today as a therapeutic drug for Alzheimer’s disease.

Plants with cultural importance, Daffodils played a big part in many art pieces including poems, paintings, but also Graeco-Roman legends like the myth of the youth Narcissus. These flowers have been highly appreciated over time and still remain notable symbols for different regions worldwide. While the Eastern countries perceive Daffodils as a form of good fortune, the Western ones consider them a symbol of vanity. We consider them beautiful flowers and love to have them in our gardens.

Read on to learn more about growing, watering, and propagating daffodils.

About Daffodils

  • These plants belong to the Amaryllidaceae family, sharing it with other herbaceous flowering plants including Crinum, Sprekelia, and Agapanthus.
  • Native to several regions of North Africa and southern Europe, Daffodils grow mostly in woods and meadows. While some species have declined due to urbanization and tourism, others have already become extinct.
  • In Iranian culture, Daffodils are national flowers and symbols of the New Year (Newroz). They are also the national flowers of Wales, enjoying all the attention on Saint David’s Day.
  • The white Narcissus species are called grave flowers very often because many people associate them with death. In Ancient Greece, they were usually planted near tombs.
  • In many countries worldwide, Narcissi are a popular symbol of cancer charities. In spring, their blooming is celebrated during numerous festivals, such as the annual Narcissi Festival.
  • Throughout history, the mesmerizing fragrance of Daffodils has been a significant ingredient in the manufacture of various perfumes. Their scent is also highly attractive to pollinators.
  • Daffodils are very easy to grow and care for, thriving in almost any environmental condition. They are big lovers of moisture and can also self-propagate.
  • Thanks to their lovely color palette and flowering period, they make for great companions to Azaleas, Daylilies, Grape Hyacinths, Rhododendrons, and Tulips.
  • These flowers may look bright and charming, but they can be pretty toxic to pets and children if ingested. For safety purposes, keep them in a spot where your curious beloved ones cannot reach them.
Daffodils
Daffodils

Daffodils Features: An Overview

  • They belong to the Narcissus genus that contains about 50 species of perennial herbaceous flowering plants. These plants are also bulbiferous geophytes, storing high amounts of water into their roots.
  • After their flowering season, Daffodils die back to the underground storage roots. In the following year, these plants regrow from their ovoid and brown bulbs.
  • In general, they can reach between 2 and 31.5 inches (5-80 cm) in height from one species to another. Some dwarf species like N. asturiensis can grow only from 2 to 3.1 inches (5-8 cm) tall.
  • Their foliage consists of several shiny, narrow, strap-shaped, and green to blue-green leaves that grow directly from their roots (bulbs). They are scapose plants, bearing only one central and leafless flower stem called a scape.
  • During their blooming period, Narcissi exhibit a solitary flower, but sometimes can appear in clusters. The blooms consist of a floral tube, an outer pair of six tepals, and a conical to disc-shaped corona.
  • Their bent or erect blossoms can come along with various shades of white, yellow, orange, red, pink, or rarely green. Some Narcissus species can present beautiful color mixes and also a strong, rich fragrance with spicy, musky, or vanilla-like tones.
  • To replace the spent flowers, Daffodils produce fruits known as dehisces. These are dry capsules that split, releasing numerous seeds that gardeners can use in propagation.

Growing Daffodils

The best thing about Daffodils is their easy-going style, making them perfect for any type of gardener, especially beginners. Excited already? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about these stunning flowers and how to become the ideal parent for them!

While most species of flowering plants are picky with their lighting conditions, these babies will do just fine anywhere you plant them. Daffodils thrive when exposed to full sunlight, but will also tolerate some dappled light or partial shade. However, they will grow towards the sun once bloomed, so you should rotate your potted plants regularly.

Daffodils are usually frost-tolerant but some species will have a hard time withstanding cooler conditions.  Especially with dwarf varieties, temperatures that drop below 29 °F (-2 °C) can damage their tender roots and blossoms. If you live in a region with cooler temperatures or harsh winters, it is suggested you grow your plants in pots and bring them inside in autumn.

These flowers look so nice that it is quite difficult for pests to resist them. Your beloved Daffodils will be occasionally bothered by aphids, mites, thrips, or bulb flies, which love feeding on their innocent bulbs. In case of infestation, you can treat your plants by applying neem oil or suitable insecticide/pesticide near the roots.

50 Daffodil Seed Mixture, From Amazon

 Planting Daffodils

Daffodils are best suited for gardens but can also do well in containers if you provide enough space for their roots to develop. For optimal growth, look for pots with a depth of at least 8 inches (20 cm) and about 8-12 inches (20-31 cm) in diameter. If the pots do not already have drainage holes, you can make them yourself before planting.

To grow healthy and happy, Daffodils demand a neutral to slightly acidic and well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. These plants prefer damp soils but are also pretty susceptible to root rot. Daffodils will be your companions for years as long as you plant them in a spot where they will not experience waterlogged substrates.

When you plant your Daffodils in high-quality soil, they will typically show nice results without any extra fertilizer. Still, these plants can benefit from light fertilizing if they are growing in poor soil or do not produce as many flowers as they should. When the leaves first appear, add a layer of bone meal or bulb food above the soil and repeat this process when you notice signs of blooming.

Watering Daffodils

In general, Daffodils need more effort on your part only in spring and fall. These flowers love having their feet wet but will not appreciate any soggy conditions or waterlogging. To avoid over-watering them, make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings. If the soil feels dry to the touch at 2 inches (5 cm) deep, it is the perfect time to spoil your plants with a generous amount of water.

During the summer, Daffodils go dormant and require drier soil than usual. When all the flowers have faded, pause the watering routine and store the bulbs in a warm and shaded location until autumn. As a general rule, the drier the soil, the easier it will be for you to get the plants out of it and store them properly.

Narcissus
Narcissus

Propagating Daffodils

When in doubt, Daffodils can be the perfect gift for your family members or friends to show how much you care about them. With little effort and no extra cost, you can make more of these beauties right in your home! Luckily, they self-propagate, forming new bulbs upon the main one that can be removed very easily and planted individually in autumn.

In 6-8 weeks after the flowers have died, the leaves turn yellow and begin to dry. At this very moment, you must cut back the foliage to 3 inches (8 cm) and dig out the Daffodil bulbs from the soil carefully. Get rid of the excess soil and make sure you throw away any offset bulbs that have soft spots or seem shriveled/damaged.

Remove all the tiny bulbs from the mother plant by twisting them gently in opposite directions. Once you have your baby Daffodils, plant them in a large container or bed filled with fresh, well-draining potting mix.

If you place the bulbs in a well-lit location and provide them with water regularly to maintain the soil damp, new growth will show up in late winter or early spring. After this period, you can plant each Daffodil into its own pot and start observing its growth.

In Conclusion

Daffodils are, without a doubt, the ideal companion to add next to your collection! Not only do these flowers look absolutely amazing, but they are also very easy to grow, care for, and even propagate. If you add a bit of love to the equation, Daffodils will be the best friends to have around for a long time!

Ready to start growing Daffodils? Share your experience in the comments below!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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