#TeachingTuesday: Daffodils

#TeachingTuesday: Daffodils

By Myatt Landscaping, Posted in
February 04, 2020

#TeachingTuesday: Daffodil

This week’s plant of the week is the daffodil, known by the scientific name Narcissus. The name is based on the mythology of the Greek god Narcissus, whose vanity leads to his own death and all that remains of him after he dies is a flower. Interestingly, Narcissus’ mother’s name was Liriope, another (unrelated) garden plant. Daffodils are also known as jonquils, and some specific types are called paperwhites or tazettas.

Daffodils are spring ephemeral bulbs that usually bloom in February-April, depending on the type, but some may bloom as early as December or as late as May. ‘Spring ephemeral’ means that they grow and bloom in the spring, and go dormant in the summer through winter. They grow best in full sunlight, but will tolerate just afternoon or morning sun. They grow well under deciduous or pine trees where the winter light can reach and recharge them before the trees are fully leafed out. They will not grow well in wet soils, as the bulbs will rot. There is a huge range of flower sizes and color combinations, from white and pale cream, to brilliant yellow and dark orange. 

Maintenance Tips

After the flowers bloom, the stalks may be pruned, but the leaves should be left until they start to turn yellow or brown. This allows the plant to store up enough energy to bloom again next year. If you cut off the foliage too early, they will not be able to bloom again the following spring. Do not braid or tie up the foliage. After several years, if the quality and quantity of blooms starts to decline, you can dig up and divide the clumps after the foliage dies back. Wear gloves when planting or dividing daffodil bulbs, because the bulbs contain oxalic acid, which causes contact dermatitis and sun sensitivity. Be very careful when using a leaf blower around daffodils, because the stalks are hollow and somewhat fragile.

ID Tips

  • Daffodils have long, flat, succulent leaves that sprout from a central point at the top of the bulb.
  • The flowers may be single or multiple on a stalk. The flower stalks are hollow.
  • Each flower will have 6 petals arranged in a circle around a trumpet-shaped tube in the center, called a corona (crown).
  • The bulbs are layered like an onion with a brown papery skin.