2017 - Year of the Daffodil
by NGB
March 19, 2017

Daffodils, a spring-blooming, self-propagating perennial, originated in Europe, predominantly Spain, Portugal, France and Austria, where they are native to meadows and woody forests.  Some naturalized in Great Britain and from there, narcissus bulbs were introduced to North America by pioneer women who made the long ocean voyage to America to build a new future. Given limited space for bringing personal goods, they sewed dormant daffodil bulbs into the hems of their skirts to plant at their new homes to remind them of the gardens they left behind.  The remnant ancestors of those bulbs still persist today in older gardens in the eastern half of the US, making them a part of our heritage for over 300 years!

The official botanical genus name for Daffodils is narcissus, which comes from the Greek word ‘Narkissos’ and its base word ‘Narke’, meaning sleep or numbness, attributed to the sedative effect from the alkaloids in its plants. The plant family is Amaryllidaceae, meaning all members are poisonous, which is great for gardeners because that makes them critter proof. Daffodil is actually just a nickname, not a scientific or Latin name. 

Unlike many spring flowering bulbs, daffodils are not eaten by mice, voles, squirrels, rabbits or deer because they are poisonous and distasteful, which helps to keep pets and children from ingesting them. Daffodils are great for picking and arranging in cut flower bouquets and they are also perfect for container planting and forcing.  The ideal daffodil planting time depends on where you live. In zones 3-5, you should plant in September-November. If you live further south, in zones 6-9, then you should wait until October-December.

Bulb sizes are determined by the age of the bulb and also the division of the cultivar. Division 1-4 tend to be larger (14-16cm or 16- 18cm in circumference) than Division 5-7 (12- 14cm or 14-16cm). Of course, miniatures are normally smaller sized bulbs (8-10cm or 10- 12 cm).

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