Daffodils and Narcissi – Narcissus

Daffodils and Narcissi are traditional early spring-flowering bulbs that can be established in containers on a patio or balcony.

These bulbs are also ideal for forcing and bringing into flower in the house in December.

The majority of these plants are native to Europe and North Africa but have been introduced to most parts of the world.

Tazetta Narcissi occur naturally in a wide band from Europe to China and Japan.

Although they all belong to the genus Narcissus, many varieties have a long trumpet arising from the centre of the petals, and it is these that are known as Daffodils.

The height can vary from 10 to 60cm (4 to 24in), depending on the variety or cultivar.

Display ideasDaffodils and Narcissi - Narcissus

The smaller-growing Narcissi can be used in window-boxes, or planted beneath container-grown trees or shrubs. However, most are more suitable for growing in pots or tubs. These can be grown with smaller, earlier-flowering bulbs such as Crocus. Growing from bulbs

For a good display of flowers in the spring, plant bulbs in August or early September.

1 In general, Daffodil and Narcissus bulbs grown in containers should be planted so that their tips just show above the compost.

2 If you are using a large, deep container you can plant the bulbs in two layers. Separate the two layers with a thin sprinkling of compost.

Looking after your plant

Daffodils and Narcissi require very little care from planting until flowering. Let the foliage die down naturally so that bulbs can build up a reserve of food for the following year.

If you want to lift the bulbs to make way for summer-flowering plants, you can do so when the foliage has turned yellow, but do not cut foliage off. Allow the bulbs to dry in a warm dry place. Remove dried foliage and store until August.

Plant Problems

Brown spots on leaves indicates scorching. This occurs if watering is irregular and sun too hot.

Prevention: Water regularly and always keep compost moist.

Grey deposits on the bulbs is a sign of grey mould. Check bulbs carefully before planting and when lifting. Treatment: Dip the bulbs in a weak fungicide.


These plants are very easy. Remove withered flowerheads but allow the foliage to die down naturally.

Narcissus (not N. pseudonarcissus, probably a ...

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  • Potting: Use a peat-based compost. Container-grown plants are best lifted and replanted in fresh compost every 2 years.
  • Water moderately during the growing season, but do not allow the compost to become wet. Do not water in winter.
  • Feeding: Feed once or twice after flowering with a standard liquid fertilizer.


  • Light: The plants do best when grown in partial shade.
  • Temperature: With few exceptions, these bulbs are very hardy and will tolerate the normal range of seasonal temperatures. Unless you are forcing bulbs they should always be grown outdoors.

The botanical name Narcissus is used for the many lovely varieties of Daffodils and Narcissi. Bulbs should actually be grown outdoors and can be brought indoors when in bloom.

When to buy

  • Buy and plant bulbs in the autumn. They are widely available from florists, garden centres and nurseries. It is best to buy from a reputable source to ensure good quality.
  • Choose bulbs that feel firm and heavy. Avoid any that are bruised or otherwise damaged.
  • Properly cared for, Narcissi and Daffodils will live for many years but you can achieve the best results by using new bulbs each year.

Traditionally, one expects daffodils to be yellow, but nowadays they are available in many variations of yellow, white, orange and pink, with both early and late-flowering cultivars to extend the season. There are also many different types, with blooms of different sizes, single and double flowers, and either single or multiple flowers on each stem.

The following are but a few of numerous interesting species and cultivars:

English: Picture of a Daffodill, scientificall...

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N. bulbocodium (hoop petticoat daffodil). Height 15 cm (6 in). Golden-yellow flow- ers, with distinctive rush-like foliage. Suitable for the rock garden or for naturalizing and does best in a damp situation.

N. cyclamincus. The cyclamen-flowered daffodil is so named because of its reflexing perianth. Height 15 cm (6 in). An early, golden-yellow daffodil suitable for the rock garden or for naturalizing.

N. ‘April Tears’. Height 20 cm (8 in). Delicate yellow flowers, three or four per stem, which are scented. N. ‘Geranium’. A multi-flowered cultivar, 38 cm (15 in) high, which is pure white with a bright orange cup. It has from four to six flowers per stem and is strongly scented. N, Tee Follies’. Height 45 cm (1.5 ft). A good white cultivar, with a flat, saucer-shaped cup. Very free-flowering.

N. ‘Passionate’. Height 45 cm (1.5 ft). The blooms have a white perianth, with a frilled pink cup.

N. ‘Peeping Tom’ and N. ‘February Gold’. These are both early-flowering and long-lasting. About 30 cm (1 ft) high, they naturalize well.

‘Rijnvelds Early Sensation’ is A cultivar which, although its flowers are not particularly outstanding, has the valuable quality of starting to bloom outdoors during January.

‘Tete-a-Tete’. Similar to N. cyclamineus in form, but slightly taller and with two or more flowers to a stem. For growing in rock gardens, beds or borders.

N. ‘White Lion’. Height 45 cm (1.5 ft). Large double flowers, with a mixture of white and yellow petals.

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