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Blooming Plants
   Blooming Plant of the Month

otanical name
Narcissus pseudonarcissus
(nar-SIS-us sue-doe-nar-SIS-us)

common names
Daffodil, Jonquil, Trumpet Narcissus

Daffodil blossoms are trumpet shaped, with petals fused to form a corona (aka crown cup or trumpet). There are double, multiflowered, small-cupped and large-cupped

Daffodils are available in hues of yellow, white, orange and green. Many daffodils are also bicolored.

consumer life
Daffodil plants will last five to 14 days, depending on variety and interior temperature. Plants last longer if they are kept in cool locations.

There are more than 12,000 varieties of daffodils, grouped into 13 divisions, each containing tall, medium and miniature (below six inches) daffodils. Here are descriptions of the most popular divisions:

DIVISION 1 Narcissi in this division are called trumpet daffodils, because the cup, or corona, is as long or longer than the petals and looks like a trumpet. These have one floret per stem. Popular varieties include ‘Primeur’, with golden-yellow, late-blooming flowers; the golden-yellow ‘Dutch Master’; and the canary-yellow ‘King Alfred’.

DIVISION 2 These large-cup daffodils have one flower to a stem. The cup is smaller (at least one-third but not as long as the length of the petals). An example is ‘Avalon’, which is a “reversed bicolor”—the cup matures to white while the petals stay yellow (opposite of the normal coloration for daffodils). ‘Coquille’ has a coral-pink cup, and ‘Paracutin’ has a bright orange-red cup.

DIVISION 3 Small-cup daffodils have one flower to a stem, and the cup, or corona, is quite small (not more than one-third the length of the petals). ‘Audubon’ is one of the loveliest daffodils in this division. Its glistening, perfectly pressed, white petals, tiny coral-pink-rimmed cup and sturdiness make it a favorite.

DIVISION 4 These double-flowered daffodils have one or more flowers to a stem, with doubling of the petals or corona or both. ‘Sunheat’ looks as if it should be blooming in the tropics while fragrant, multiflowered ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ has strong, 15- to 16-inch-long stems.

DIVISION 7 The Jonquilla daffodil, or small jonquil, group includes short-cupped, sweet-scented species, often with two or more flowers per stem. Principal varieties include the golden-yellow ‘Baby Moon’, the golden-yellow-petaled/orange-cupped ‘Suzy’ and the lemon-yellow ‘Trevithian’.

DIVISION 8 Tazetta daffodils have clusters of sweetly scented flowers and cups that are small and straight sided, with broad, often frilled petals. Narcissus papyraceus, commonly called “paper-white Narcissus,” is a cultivar in the Tazetta group as are ‘Grand Soleil d’Or,’ a miniature yellow-bloomed variety, and the lemon-yellow-petaled/golden-yellow-cupped ‘Minnow’.

Daffodils become prevalent on most markets in November. Peak supplies are seen in February and March. Crops will extend through April.

LIGHT Narcissi prefer bright light, or the stems will become weak, yellowed and elongated. Keep interior light levels at 50 to 100 foot-candles or higher. The plants can be kept in or near windows where the light is indirect.

WATER Check the plants frequently, and water to keep the soil moist at all times. Avoid standing water.

TEMPERATURE Provide a cool location away from heat sources. Cooler temperatures of no higher than 65 F during the day and 45 F to 55 F at night will ensure maximum longevity. Store at 33 F to 35 F for no more than three days.

HUMIDITY These plants prefer medium humidity.

FERTILIZER Narcissi don’t need fertilizer because all of the food they need is stored in the bulb.

Plants should be purchased and marketed in the “pencil” stage, which is the straight-up position of the flower relative to the stem.

Some information provided by:
Carol and Don Garibaldi, Año Nuevo Flower Growers Inc. Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Chain of Life Network®,
Flower Facts,
Northern California Daffodil Society,
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual
San Francisco Wholesale Flower Mart,

Some photos courtesy of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.

Reach “Fresh Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at  or (415) 239-3140.

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