Narcissus, commonly known as daffodils or jonquils, flower in the spring in my zone from bulbs planted the previous fall.  They are native to southwestern Europe and North Africa. From Wikipedia,  “The species are native to meadows and woods in southwest Europe and North Africa with a center of diversity in the Western Mediterranean, particularly the Iberian peninsula. Both wild and cultivated plants have naturalised widely, and were introduced into the Far East prior to the tenth century. Narcissi tend to be long-lived bulbs, which propagate by division, but are also insect-pollinated.” It is generally accepted that there are about 50 species of narcissus, and another 60 known naturally occurring hybrids. Named narcissus hybrids number in the many thousands. The species daffodil Poeticus var. Recurvus pictured above is commonly known as Old Pheasant’s Eye.  It is remarkably tolerant of wet soil.  The delicate flowers bloom atop a grassy foliage usually 12″-15″ tall. It is sweetly fragrant, and very persistent. Planted in moisture retentive soil that has a decent percentage of organic material, it will increase and bloom for decades with little or no care. The flowers are diminutive and graceful; up close, the blooms are stunning.

narc_triandrus_lemon_drops_mainThe narcissus Poeticus does not remotely resemble the large brassy yellow trumpet flowered daffodil that is common in spring gardens throughout the US. From the Missouri Botanical Garden website (a plant reference I use frequently), “King Alfred was introduced in 1899 and quickly became recognized as the standard yellow trumpet daffodil. And it remained the standard until the 1950s when new yellow trumpet daffodils featuring larger flowers, better form and/or better performance became available. Since the 1950s, ‘King Alfred’ production from bulb growers has decreased rapidly to the point where this daffodil is not currently available in commerce today except through a very limited number of specialty nurseries. But the legendary name lives on. Most bulbs sold today as ‘King Alfred’ are not in fact ‘King Alfred’ but are large all-yellow look-alikes (such as ‘Dutch Master’) that are being marketed under the famous ‘King Alfred’ name by use of such descriptive labeling as “improved King Alfred” or “King Alfred type”.” In my opinion, bigger and more showy is not necessarily better. There are so many species and heirloom varieties of narcissus that are so much more beautiful in flower than the standard large yellow daffodil. The narcissus triandrus variety “Lemon Drops” pictured above was bred and introduced by Grant Mitch in 1956. The small nodding flowers are especially fragrant, and have a natural subtle beauty.

narc_trumpet_pink_silk_extra_3_It is no secret that I am a big fan of spring flowering bulbs. Though planting those dormant brown orbs in the chill of the late fall is not my favorite garden activity, I truly enjoy how that planting creates a sense of anticipation for the spring. There is a wide range of spring flowering bulbs that are well worth planting, but I have a special affection for the narcissus. They are truly perennial when properly sited. They perform reliably. They increase over the years with little or no maintenance. I have clumps that have never been divided, that still bloom profusely. Deer want nothing to do with them. Narcissus Pink Silk is a descendant of that famed first “pink” daffodil Mrs. R.O. Backhouse, and was introduced in 1970. This heirloom daffodil is as lovely now as it was 45 years ago. There is nothing over bred or flashy about it.

spring3 DallasNarcissus make fabulous and long lasting cut flowers, provided they are conditioned properly. The stems exude an irritating sap when cut.  I condition them for at least 24 hours before arranged them with other flowers. I do deadhead my daffodils when they are done flowering, as I would rather that they expend their energy expanding their clump via the production of offsets than setting seed. The above pictured daffodil Dallas was bred in 1942, and is classed in division 3-daffodils with small cups.  Daffodils are classed in 13 different categories, which relate to size, color and shape.

moschatus-3s.jpgThe species daffodil Moschatus pictured above is large flowered, but subtle in form and color. Many hybrid narcissus have this daffodil in its parentage. Famed American garden writer Louise Beebe Wilder called this her favorite daffodil: “The solitary pale nodding flower has an infinite appeal, a fragile tender grace that I think is not duplicated in the race….No more exquisite flower could be found for a cool, tended corner….Not to know this daffodil is to be poor in experience.” This photo by Becky Matthews was taken in rural Tennessee in March 2004. The species daffodils are more likely to “naturalize”, meaning the clumps will increase in size, and persist for many years. The fancier, newer hybrids may not perform as well over the long run.

narc_pink_passionale_mainI have more than a few large clumps of the daffodil Pink Passionale in my garden.  Enough so that I can cut them and bring them indoors in the spring. This large cup variety was a favorite of garden writer Henry Mitchell.  It is easy to see why.  I brought a bouquet of them to Rob this past spring.  That vase of flowers encouraged him to look into assembling a daffodil collection for Detroit Garden Works this fall.  All of the varieties under discussion here are on his A list.

BroughshaneThe daffodil Broughshane was bred by an Irish hybridizer, Guy Wilson. From 1930 and into the early 1960’s, he was widely acclaimed as one of the best breeders of white narcissus.

Narcis Sea Princess _2164.jpg_f1The narcissus Sea Princess is a small cupped narcissus bred in 1984.  It is perfect for naturalizing.

DA980 April QueenDaffodil April Queen was first offered for sale in 1936. The blooms are reputed to be one of the longest lasting in flower in the daffodil kingdom.  The small orange cup is strikingly beautiful.

Croft-16-Daffodils-Mrs-Langtrydaffodil Mrs. Langtry, introduced in England in the late 19th century.

narc_jonquilla_sailboat_extra_1__1 fragrant multi floweringThe narcissus jonquilla Sailboat features wind swept petals-thus the name. The jonquilla group features narcissus with multiple blooms on a stem that are quite fragrant. I am sure you are seeing by now how difficult is it to choose which daffodils to grow. Interested in the classification system for daffodils?  daffodil classes

narc_small_princess_zaide_mainThe miniature narcissus Princess Zaide, how could we forget this one?  late flowering, shallow cupped, and sporting a chartreuse eye.

Narcissus_W.P.MilnerRob’s list is long, but each one of these daffodils would make a fine addition to the spring garden.  Forgive me all of these pictures, but once you take the time to study the available narcissus, it is easy to be taken by a plant that is so carefree and persistent in the landscape is so beautiful. W. P. Milner, here.

DA971 glory of lissedaffodil Glory of Lisse

narc_cycl_toto_main_2narcissus Toto

bacec9d68af99a7ee04ad4a4191b985f narcissus British Gamblenarcissus British Gamble

daffodil Fidelitydaffodil Fidelity

DA985 horn of plentydaffodil Horn of Plenty

DA944 daffodil romancedaffodil Romance

angel_daffsx1200 thaliadaffodil Thalia


narcissus Bath’s Flame

narc_large_stainless_mainnarcissus Stainless

1008398 miniature nbarcissus Elkaminiature narcissus Elkanarc_small_dreamlight_mainnarcissus Dreamlight

1280px-Narcissus_Xit miniatureminiature narcissus xit

215 narcissus Firebirdnarcissus Firebird

PL2000008432_card2_lg Nivethdaffodil Niveth

narc_triandrus_katie_heath_extranarcissus Katie Heath

narc_triandrus_katie_heath_extra_1_This closeup of narcissus Katie Heath-breathtaking. Surely there is a daffodil here that would enchant you.


  1. Awfully glad my bulb order is already in, because your outstanding photos make each variety seem a must-have. And our taste in varieties is similar, as a lot of these have been on my wishlist for a while (Katie Heath, Sailboat, Toto, Stainless).

    NEXT year!

    I’m adding a few ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’ each year to the ones already here, and take the greatest joy in existing little sweeps of ‘W.P. Milner’, ‘Thalia’, and ‘Hawera’ . The new-to-me variety this fall is ‘Snow Baby’, an early white mini. For fronting peonies — the white is exciting with the emerging red stems, and they’re small and early enough that they should be masked in their decline by expanding geraniums, heuchera, Jacob’s ladder, etc. At least that’s the plan…

    Must close this tab or I’ll be sorely tempted to add to my order! Will think of these lovely images when out on the cold ground in a month or so. Thanks.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Nell, we will be planting daffodils in October and November. If the weather is cold and blustery, we will plant anyway. I would not want to do without daffodils in the spring. best, Deborah

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Sounds to me like you have a big love for daffodils, Nell. Bravo! Deborah

  2. Ellen Devine says:

    I am part of a group which plants daffodils on Belle Isle Park in Detroit in the fall and celebrates their bloom in the spring. We have 70 thousand to plant this fall and will be beginning next week. We estimate that 200,000 will have been planted on the island after this group goes in. The largest planting is currently along the water near the Conservatory and is 105 feet long and 8 feet wide. It was spectacular last spring. The goal is a daffodil for every Detroiter.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Ellen, your project is spectacular indeed. I am so pleased you wrote to let me know about it. I will have to make a point of going to see your plantings in the spring. Bravo! best, Deborah

      • Ellen Devine says:

        Not my project, but I am happy to be a part of it. Please do come and see. The Anna Scripps Whitcomb facebook page will keep you in the loop, Belle Isle is probably a zone 6 and it is interesting that the bulbs on the Canadian side (where the sun rises) bloom earlier than those on the Detroit was quite lovely last year.

        • Deborah Silver says:

          Dear Ellen, I am planning to come see. I love daffodil hill at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I will better love the daffodils planted in my own city. thanks, Deborah

  3. Angie Marie says:

    I would like to know how these spring bulbs look in the summer/early fall when their blooms are gone. I have thought about planting some, but I am not sure what to mix in with them to make sure the spot is not just leaves when the spring flowers go. Any suggestions?

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Angie, the foliage of daffodils will turn yellow and mature around the first of July. The foliage can be cut back to the ground then. Plant the bulbs next to something that blooms in summer or fall. best, Deborah

      • Angie Marie says:

        Thank you! That Old Pheasant Eye is wonderful… I may have to stop in and get some! Do you have suggestions for companion summer and winter plants?

        • Deborah Silver says:

          Dear Angie Marie, I will post when the bulbs get here. This daffodil takes up very little space. You could pop them in just about anywhere in a garden or landscape. best, Deborah

  4. Hi Deborah, new to your blog! Enjoying every moment of exploring it, you are all very talented. I do have a question about daffodils and narcissus. For some reason mine do not bloom, I get leaves but no flowers. Yet there are some in the woods next to my house that bloom every year for thirty years. After looking at your post I would love to dive in and plant some of these beauties but I am nervous. Any suggestions?

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Deb, maybe the daffodils you have need dividing. Daffodils also like good drainage and fairly decent light. But for sure I would not let this stand in the way of trying them again. Perhaps a nursery person local to you could help you out with this. I am assuming you have looked this problem up on your computer. all the best, Deborah

      • Thank you, Deborah, for taking time to answer. I have looked into it locally and still cannot figure it out. I will take your advise and keep trying, though. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration…deb

        • You are letting the foliage ripen with access to air, yes? Cutting off or tying up the foliage after bloom, before it’s completely yellowed and withered, denies the bulbs the food they need to bloom well the next year.

          Shallow tree and shrub roots can rob nutrients from daffs, also. If that’s a possibility, consider scratching in some organic balanced fertilizer this fall; by spring it will have broken down and become available to the daffodils just as they are pushing out their foliage. This made a nice difference for the ‘W.P. Milner’s here, most of which are competing with beech roots.

          • Nell,

            There is an excellent chance that this is the problem as ALL of my daffs are near shrubs, all of them except the ones in the woods which are free to grow and flourish……I never cut the leaves. I will try the fertilizer and plant future daffodils away from roots. Thank you for your time and suggestions… so appreciated…deb

  5. Gorgeous pictures of natures gifts!

  6. I have been growing Dreamlight for a number of years and she is a stunner. Just ordered WP Milner and Moschatus this fall so your photos have me very excited.

  7. Thanks for the beautiful photos and details. Another big plus for those with wildlife problems… Deer, bunnies and rodents are NOT interested in daffodils!

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Laura, a good part of the draw of daffodils in how they naturalize, and multiply. Another great draw is how wildlife skip over them. I can count on my daffodils blooming every spring. all the best, Deborah

  8. There are any number I find enchanting! I’m lucky to have a few of these varieties in my garden already but I’d love more. So fun to see a Narcissus post in late Summer vs Spring.

  9. Where do you buy your daffodils bulbs? Photos are just beautiful – I would like to order some of these varieties.

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