Daffodils: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

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Guidelines for Growing
Daffodil bulbs are planted in the Fall, for Spring bloom.

A well-drained, sunny spot, with excellent drainage is best. Daffodils can do well enough in semi-shaded areas, but thrive in sunny areas.
Plant the daffodil bulbs with their top (pointed end) at least two times as deep as the bulb is high.
Daffodils need plenty of water during their growing season and like to be dry in summer.
Really, daffodils do well with minimal fertilizer. The many large, naturalized fields of Daffodils attest to this fact.
But you may top-dress with 5-10-10 when the leaf-tips emerge and as they flower, top-dress with 0-10-10 or 0-0-50. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer.

The bulbs make their next year's bloom after flowering, so never cut the foliage until it begins to yellow (usually late May or June). The bulbs are receiving nutrients for next years' growth from the foliage.

They may be lifted and divided after 3-5 years.

Many may be forced. After forcing most may find a new home in the garden and bloom the following years.


The dependable, spring-flowering daffodil is a favorite for its long life and carefree, colorful blooms. Other common names include jonquil and narcissus.

There are over 26000 different daffodils registered; of these, it is thought that only about 10% are available commercially.
The most widely sold daffodil of all time is the large cupped yellow daffodil 'Carlton'. It is still available.The order of the top The world's leading growers of daffodils are England, Netherlands, then USA (mostly on the west, north west coast areas of California, Oregon, and Washington).

Terminology
Absorbed - term refers to daffodils having multiple names that have been determined a single cultivar by accreditation sources (American Daffodil Society a/o Royal Horticultural Society). This typically happens to historically older daffodils.

mucronate - term used describing petals meaning an abruptly tapering point such as at the end of a petal.

Poetazes - Cross of N. poeticus (division 9) and N. tazetta (division 8). Began in the 1890's. Examples include 'Admiration', 'Martha Washington', and 'Laurens Koster'. Usually listed under division 8 Tazetta

Daffodil blindness - failure of daffodils to bloom despite healthy foliage Usual cause is overcrowding.

crenate - having a round-toothed or scalloped edge (term used in description of cup's rim).

Corona - cup

Perianth - petals

ADS - American Daffodil Society

RHS - Royal Horticultural Society This esteemed body is the Keeper of the Gate for the daffodil world.

classic - daffodils created between 1940 and 1969
historic - daffodils created before 1940
heirloom - pre 1930

About daffodils
Daffodils bring cheer to the spring garden with abundant flowers in hues of yellow, white, pink, and salmon. Varieties are available in a range of sizes and forms. Flowers may be single or double, grow singly on a stem or with multiple flowers per stem, and height varies from 4 to 20 inches. Daffodils grow best in areas with cold winters, cool springs, and cool summers. Choose varieties that mature at different times to extend the bloom season. Unlike many spring-flowering bulbs, daffodil bulbs are not eaten by mice or voles.

Daffodils are divided into 13 divisions based on their flower shape and dimensions and their heritage. This was standardized by the Royal Horticultural Society of England in 1950. Each division is assigned a number.

Div. 1 - Trumpet Daffodils - The cup (trumpet) is longer than or equal to length of the the petals. One flower per stem.
Div. 2 - Large Cupped Daffodils - The cup is more than 1/3 length of the petals but not longer than the petals. One flower per stem.
Div. 3 - Small Cupped Daffodils - The cup is less than 1/3 length of the petals. One flower per stem.
Div. 4 - Double Daffodils - Double the number of petal parts or cup parts or both. No clear distinction between cup and petals.
Div. 5 - Triandrus Daffodils - Two to five pendent (hanging downward) flowers per stem. Petals are somewhat reflexed (bent backward).
Div. 6 - Cyclamineus Daffodils - Petals are swept back from the cup (significantly, at an acute angle), very reflexed.. One flower per stem.
Div. 7 - Jonquilla Daffodils - One to five small fragrant flowers per stem. Petals are spreading or reflexed. (Good for southern gardens)
Div. 8 - Tazetta Daffodils - Up to twenty fragrant small flowers per stem. (Good for southern gardens)
Div. 9 - Poeticus Daffodils - Pure white petals, small disk like cups with green or yellow center and red rim. Fragrant.
Div.10 -Bulbocodium Daffodils - 'Hoop Petticoat' Petals insignificant to cup. One flower per stem. Short.
Div.11a - Split-Cupped Collar Daffodil - Cup is split into segments, usually two whorls of three segments.
Div.11b - Split Cupped (Papillon) Daffodil - cup split into six laid back (against petals) sections.
Div.12 - Miscellaneous - Cultivars that do not fit into any other division.
Div.13 - Distinguished by botanical name, species and wild daffodils.

According to RHS, Div.2 is the largest division accounting for 45% of registered daffodils.

How to talk Daffodil
As an example - the daffodil 'Roulette - 2 _ _W - YYO and the daffodil Altun Ha - 2 YYW - W_ _.
The number (which starts the code) is which daffodil Division it is assigned to, in both examples it's a 2 which translates into Division 2, Large-Cupped Daffodil.

Roulette
The remainder of the code relates to color, the first 3 spaces available is the color of the petals, hyphon, 3 more available spaces. The spaces to the right of the hyphon relate to the color of the cup. 1st example is a blank, blank W. If only one space used, that's the color of the petals, in this case a W which equals white. Hence we now know the daffodil in question, Roulette. has all white petals. YYO completes the first code, this means the cup has a yellow base, a yellow middle and an O for orange rim to the cup.

Altun Ha
Large Cupped YYW, meaning yellow, yellow, white, or yellow tips, yellow body, white base to the petals. Then, the hyphon, W blank blank, meaning white cup.

If the daffodil code read 2 YYW-YYO, we'd have a daffodil with petals of yellow ends and yellow middle, and a white base.. Hypon. YYO meaning the cup is yellow based, with a yellow body and an orange rim.
Conversely a daffodil code might read 1 W - Y, which means Division 1 Trumpet with white petals and yellow cup.

Abbreviations used in color codes:
Y - yellow, W - white, R - red, O - orange, P - pink, G - green


Awards in the Daffodil World

Award of Garden Merit - from the RHS for plants grown in the garden of superior quality.
Award of Merit - also from RHS - this award relates to plants grown for show purposes, an indication of quality that meets requirements of show samples.
First Class Certificate - FCC - this is a higher award for show excellence, goes to 'best of show.'
PC - Preliminary Consideration - show quality
HC - Highly Commended - show quality
C - Commended - Trial winner
Pannill Award - from ADS for outstanding show quality in US.
Ralph B. White Memorial Medal - best newly registered and shown cultivar of that year
Innovation Medal - for the most innovative new daffodil in an ADS show, panel think this particular cultivar may influence direction of breeding.
Wister Award - American version of outstanding garden merit, performance.
Forcing Award - FC - Dutch award from the Royal Bulbgrower's Association for cultivars that force well.
First Class Forcing Award - FCFA - Dutch award for Outstanding Exhibition Quality
First Class Early Forcing Award - FCEFA - another Dutch forcing award, for early forcers.
Trial Garden Award TGA - Dutch Award for top cultivar in trials.

Special features of daffodils
Easy care/low maintenance
Multiplies readily
Good for cut flowers
Most are forcible to make winter more colorful
Acts as a protectorate against squirrels and other garden bulb raiders (toxic to critters)
Good investment for gardeners as most daffodils reliably return year after year and usually replicate themselves.

Choosing a site to grow daffodils
Select a site with full sun (preferred) to light shade and well-drained soil.

Planting Instructions
Plant daffodil bulbs in fall, 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F. This is usually during September and October in the North, and October and November in the South. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole about 3 to 4 times as deep as the height of the bulb. Set the bulb in the hole, pointy end up, then cover with soil and press firmly. Space bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart. Water thoroughly after planting.

Ongoing Care
Keep the daffodil bed watered during dry spells in the fall. After plants are finished flowering in spring, cut back flower stalks but allow the leaves to die back naturally, hiding the unsightly foliage with annual or perennial plantings. An annual application of compost should provide adequate nutrients. Every 5 to 10 years, divide the clumps of bulbs in early summer.

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