A few weeks ago we spoke about the tiny, early spring bulbs that flower in late winter and at the very start of spring. This week let’s consider narcissi – known to most of us as daffodils. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the bulb and the earlier it flowers, the sooner you need to get it in the ground to allow root and shoot formation in time for the main event – blooming. It’s still a bit early for tulips as current advice is to plant them when it gets really cold – November or December is fine and you can even get away with planting them in January, as all but the early ones don’t flower till April or May.
It’s really time to get the narcissi in the ground now though or at least over the next week or two. (Note to self: unpack box, unwrap bulbs and get digging – do you know, I sometimes wonder how fabulous my garden would be if I followed my own advice? )
Remember to plant them as deep as you can – three times the depth of the bulb isn’t too much. This can be tricky if you’re planting them in an existing border, but they look really well popping up here and there amongst other plants in little groups. You need to allow the foliage to die down for at least six weeks after flowering, to allow the bulbs to build up strength for flowering the following year, and the dying foliage can look brown and messy, but planting in this way allows the emerging foliage of herbaceous perennials to conceal that of the daffodils.
Although we tend to think of them as being gold or yellow, sometimes with orange centres, there’s a beautiful white variety, “Thalia”, which is my favourite. A late flowerer, it looks lovely with pink and purple tulips, and it’s graceful, nodding blooms have the most elegant form of any daffodil I know.
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