Narcissus or Daffodil?

I love daffodils, they’re already poking out the ground in my garden and because I do not like winter I have an image of those sunny little flower heads in my mind to carrying me on towards spring.

I’m often asked about the difference between narcissi and daffodils, there isn’t anything physical. Narcissus is the horticultural term and Daffodil the common name.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re short or tall, they’re like rays of fragrant sunshine on a spring morning and I’m sure there’s a variety to suit any garden.

The first daffodils that I planted in my garden were a species variety called ‘Rip Van Winkle’. They’re short stemmed only growing to about six inches with bright yellow double flowers. The petals are thinner than most other daffodils making the flowers look ragged and quite unusual from the typical daffodil shape. I planted mine in a container at first and after a few years transplanted them into the ground after flowering.

Another favourite is ‘Jetfire’, also a short stemmed variety, but this one has the most perfect bright yellow daffodil flower head but with an orange cup.

It’s amazing how many different daffodils there are, some quite unusual like Narcissus poeticus recurvus ‘Pheasant’s Eye’. This is an old late flowering variety that’s very fragrant and grows to about sixteen inches, with a creamy yellow cup that is thinly edged with red and surrounded by white reflexed petals.

Narcissus ‘Wisley’ has a lovely fresh yellow cup with white petals that are reflexed; it grows to about fourteen inches.

A very early flowering dwarf daffodil is ‘Spring Dawn’, it can flower as early as January with a soft lemon cup surrounded by white petals giving a much needed splash of colour at the end of winter.

When planting daffodils its best to wear gloves because the bulbs can irritate the skin. They need well-drained soil in sun or partial shade and planted at a depth at least twice the size of the bulb and a similar distance apart. It’s important not to plant too shallowly otherwise you may not get flowers. After flowering, remove the dead flowers, add a slow release fertiliser like bonemeal and let the leaves die down naturally.