Narcissus

Narcissus, more commonly known as daffodils, have to be one of the greatest bulbs for the Ottawa area.

So what makes the Narcissus so great? It's just another spring bulbs, isn't it? Well, it has quite a few things going for it over the more common tulips.

Daffodils are toxic. You're probably thinking that's not a good thing, but it is. Pets and children will rarely ever have any risk since the bulb is buried in the ground and out of harm's way. However, animals and wildlife always seem to know what plants are toxic and what ones aren't (which is why we don't worry about toxic plants and pets very often). That means that squirrels, chipmunks, and even deer avoid Narcissus. Tulips, on the other hand, are wildlife buffets.

Narcissus also naturalize. Now some tulips and other bulbs naturalize as well, but hybridization can often make for weaker and less vigorous plants preventing them from naturalizing. Daffodils are much stronger plants and naturalize very well. They very reliably come up year after year. Of course the disadvantage associated with less hybridization is less variety. Mind you, I'd much rather have fewer types of living plants than lots of ones that won't last.

Narcissus can also be great value plants. Value is a relative term and you need to think about it a little. Each Narcissus bulb can be quite expensive compared to tulips - almost double and sometimes even triple the price. But Daffodil bulbs don't get huge, instead they multiply. When you get a large premium Daffodil bulb, it's often one large bulb with at least one, often two, three, or sometimes as many as four bulblets attached. If you get economy Daffodils, those smaller bulblets are divided apart and sold one at a time. In the end, you end up paying more for the economy bulbs to end up with the same overall number of plants. By getting fewer extra large bulbs, you end up with a better value and a great show in your garden.

There are more colours than just yellow for Narcissus. White ones are very pretty as well. You can often find ones with different coloured cups and petals. The variety is quite impressive. Pinks are now more common as are fuller butterfly types with a large puffy cup. Though most Narcissus have little to no fragrance, some have a very strong fragrance. Typically smaller flowering Daffodils carry the most fragrance, but it's best to check the package if you're after the fragrance.

Like all bulbs, plant them as early in the season as you can. Daffodils are usually planted 6"-8" deep and in clusters. They do far better in sunny locations than shade, but will often take part-sun (about 6 hours of sun). So take some time and add a few Narcissus or Daffodils to your bulb mix and enjoy watching your flower clumps grow larger and stronger each year.

More in this category: « Rabbit's Foot Fern Lilac »
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