Narcissus - A Hero of the Garden
Narcissuses are by far the most underrated flower I grow. Daffodils are so easy to care for that we forget how gorgeous and wonderfully scented they are. The word daffodil creates images of bright yellow, trumpet type narcissus. They actually range from fluffy, double blooms like Delnashaugh with an apricot center to delicate stems with multiple blooms such as Yellow or White Cheerfulness. Narcissus can be lightly or heavily scented.
In the garden, narcissus are fabulous performers that increase in numbers, tolerate being planted under trees, and return reliably year after year.
No other flower shouts spring is here, like a daffodil. Only bulbs such as crocus and muscari bloom before narcissi. They are easy to force in containers for even earlier blooms or try planting them next to a brick or concrete building for blooms up to two weeks earlier.
In Iowa, daffodils usually bloom in late March or early April depending on the weather. If you live here, you know our springs are unpredictable! Narcissi are great because they tolerate the drastic temperature swings. Even in bloom, they can withstand temperatures below freezing. I’ve even had blooms recover from being covered in freezing rain.
As a cut flower, they bring joy to homes at a reasonable price. You can buy a ten stem bunch of a basic daffodil for under $10. More creatively you can create (or ask your florist to create) a stunning arrangement of spring blooms. Don’t be afraid to use the more dramatic doubles or delicate blooms in more formal arrangements for occasions such as weddings.
If growing daffodils, yourself, harvest by pulling on the stems. The stem will pop apart a bit below the soil line, giving you the best stem length. Harvest when blooms are just about to crack open for the longest vase life.
Narcissus blooms are usually side facing. You will want to arrange them for the viewer to see your arrangement from the side instead of overhead. The stem length can be shorter, so select your vase accordingly. Making a small hand tied bouquet can help to hold your stems in place if the neck of your vessel opening is too large to secure your stems. Casual yellow varieties look great secured with a bit of garden twine.
Narcissuses exude a sap that will reduce the vase life of other flowers if not handled correctly. There is an easy solution, don’t recut the stems when arranging. Cut the narcissus and place in water for at least two hours, preferably three. You can then arrange the flowers with other seasonal blooms such as early tulips, muscari (grape hyacinth), or flowering branches. An arrangement of branches extending over narcissus and smaller blooms gives the impression of a spring woodland.
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