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Narcissus and Daffodils

Heirloom 'Twin Sisters' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

Narcissus x medioluteus March offers many opportunities for garden color, but as April approaches, daffodil blooms become scarce. One April blooming narcissus, N. x medioluteus (also called "Twin Sisters" or "April Beauty") affords the opportunity of...

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Heirloom 'Campernelle' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

The Campernelle Daffodil and 3 Reason We Love Them!  In this article, we’ll answer some basic questions about one of the most common heirloom daffodils seen in perennial gardens across Texas and the Southeastern United States, the campernelle...

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Heirloom 'Jonquil' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

3 reasons we love jonquils and everything you need to know to make them a success in your garden!     We love jonquils because: 1)    They have a sweet fragrance that is enjoyed almost unanimously. 2)   ...

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Heirloom 'Snowflakes' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

 Termed 'Snowflakes' by the gardening public, the Leucojum aestivum is by far one the most adaptable bulbs ever offered in the South. Their ability to grow in sun or shade has made them a winner for woodland settings, roadside plantings, and great...

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Heirloom 'Italicus' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

Narcissus tazetta 'Italicus' If you live in more northern parts of the South and long for some sort of paperwhite, then the Italicus is your answer. The most notable aspect of the flowers is their star-shaped petals appearing on the numerous flowers...

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Heirloom 'Grand Primo' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

Narcissus tazetta 'Grand Primo' is a superstar from the Gulf Coast to the northern parts of the South, to California, and other warm climates. Vigorous, reliable, perennial all come to mind. Landscapers enjoy the bulb for its massive color impact, and...

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Heirloom 'Golden Dawn' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

   From the lowest regions of the South to the Zone 7 areas, this bulb multiplies and blooms year after year. Since the first half of the last century, this treasure has done nothing but impress and delight warm climate gardeners. It is not...

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Heirloom 'Texas Star' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

Narcissus x intermedius 'Texas Star' has become a favorite around the Southern Bulb Co. The name says it all, as this uncommonly 'Texas tough' hybrid between a Narcissus jonquil and a Narcissus tazetta performs well in clay, sand, ditches...

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Heirloom 'Lent Lily' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

The Lent lily (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) Harsh conditions often deter other bulbs from blooming during the cold February months, but one brave daffodil is in a class all its own. The traditional trumpet shaped Lent lily (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) was...

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Heirloom 'Van Sion' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

Van Sion is another double daffodil with a little more green in the mixture and according to the 1969 Classified List and International Register of Daffodil names published by the Royal Horticulture Society is synonymous with Narcissus ‘Telamonius...

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Daffodil 'Jetfire' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

Elegant swept back petals on small compact plants. After six years with The Southern Bulb Company, some Narcissus have made a huge impression on me even though I have not seen them in some of the most historic sites. I feel as if these beauties must be...

Daffodil 'Falconet' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

A brightly colored multi-flowering Narcissus great for forcing in the spring. Have you longed to force a daffodil for the spring season? Then I first suggest you read our section on forcing for paperwhites and then apply the same basic principles to...

Daffodil 'Erlicheer' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

A double flowered tazetta packed with fragrance and long lasting cut flowers. Tightly clustered rosettes of creamy white petals that perfume an entire garden with a sweet smell in the latter part of the spring. It is very similar in form to and could...

Daffodil 'Sir Winston Churchill' - 10 bulbs

$20.00

This bulb holds up to its stately title! This double white daffodil is a treasure of a bulb. Multiple layers of creamy white petals with yellow/orange centers affirm that the 'Sir Winston Churchill' is as attractive up close as at a distance. Each bulb...

Daffodil 'Pheasant's Eye' - bulbs

$20.00

Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus The Narcissus 'Pheasant's Eye’ bulb provides your garden with a colorful and unique bloom. The flat white petals surround one of the most colorful centers. The yellow center has a green eye but the tip of the...

Daffodil 'Barret Browning' - bulbs

$20.00

The Narcissus 'Barrett Browning' is an eye-catching addition to your spring garden. The bright red-orange cup is surrounded by pure white petals. The spring bloom will provide your garden with dramatic color while you await your other blooms...

Everything you need to know about daffodils for your garden!

 

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In this article you will find out about daffodils:

1)     What is a daffodil? What is the difference between a daffodil and a Narcissus?

2)     Why should I plant daffodils?

3)     Where should I plant daffodils? What should I consider when planning a garden with daffodils?

4)     When should I buy daffodils online? What does it mean to ship bulbs "in the green"?

5)     When should I plant daffodils?

 6)     How do I plant daffodil bulbs? How deep do I plant daffodil bulbs?

7)     How do I care for daffodils? Should I fertilize daffodil bulbs?

7)     What does forcing bulbs mean? Can daffodils be forced?

8)     Where do daffodils come from? Who is the Southern Bulb Company?

9)     Gardening with daffodils: an investment in your garden and relationships!

10)   Daffodil frequently asked questions and comments

  

What is a daffodil? What is the difference between a daffodil and narcissus?

A daffodil is a trumpet shaped flower originating from a flower bulb and is part of a plant genus named Narcissus. All daffodils are in the group Narcissus. Daffodil is a common name used for Narcissus that have a large trumpet shaped bloom. Many gardeners use the term narcissus, with a lowercase “n”, to refer to a group of bulbs in the Narcissus genus (Narcissus with a capital “N” referring to the proper name of a large group of plants that includes daffodils) that typically have smaller blooms, multiple blooms on one stalk, and smaller cups (less like a “daffodil” trumpet and more flat against the petals). Here is a quick table to illustrate the difference.

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Do you see how many of the flower bulbs called “daffodil” have the larger trumpet shape? Do you notice how many of the flower bulbs called “narcissus” LACK the large trumpet shape and have smaller, almost more naturally occurring cups and petal forms? We included a "double" flower ("double" referring to the ruffled appearance of the cup) example of 'Bridal Crown' as many gardeners often refer to the larger flowered doubles as daffodils.

If you are done reading and want to browse pretty pictures of daffodils for your garden, click here and we’ll take you back to the top!

Here are some more examples:

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To fully understand the many differences between daffodils and all Narcissus, botanists have spent a lot of time classifying the different types of Narcissus. Note the use of the capital “N” and italicized word Narcissus– this is the proper nomenclature for an actual genus in plant classification. All daffodils, narcissus, and paperwhites fall into the genus Narcissus, and you can explore the Wikipedia article on Narcissus here if you’d like to go into further detail.

What is a Narcissus tazetta? Narcissus tazetta also have smaller and numerous blooms on one stalk, but they are generally larger and more robust than the smaller species flower bulbs often referred to as narcissus. One of the most common and best performing tazettas is the Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’ that we simply refer to as ‘Grand Primo.’ This is a common heirloom selection of Narcissus that is a reliable bloomer and proven to return for generations in old garden homesites. Many of the Narcissus tazetta are proven perennials and reliable bloomers for home gardens.

Wait! What is a paperwhite flower? What is the difference between a paperwhite flower and a tazetta? All paperwhites and tazetta are in the Narcissus genus, along with daffodils and species bulbs commonly referred to as narcissus. Narcissus tazetta is a species of Narcissus that has many smaller flowers on one stalk, and paperwhites also have many smaller flowers on one stalk, but the cups and petals are all pure white! Let’s use a table to illustrate this difference:

What does forcing flower bulbs mean? Paperwhite flowers are often planted and “forced” to bloom on a schedule, for events like Christmas.   Read our section on forcing paperwhites to bloom down below.

Why should I plant daffodil bulbs?

Daffodils are a reliable perennial flower bulb with selections that bloom from winter throughout spring when there are few other flowers offering color to the garden – in other words, daffodils extend the season of color in our gardens.   Daffodils have bold colors that catch the eye, and in many ways shout to us that winter is not forever, and spring is approaching. Working daffodils into your landscape architecture is an integral part of a year-round garden with foliage structure and colorful blooms.

Daffodils add to the depth and pleasing year-round appearance of your garden. Daffodils are monocots and pair nicely with most garden plants that are often dicots. It sounds simple, or almost silly, but monocots with their grass like foliage and parallel veins in their leaves are a pleasing juxtaposition against the branched, multi leafed companions they are planted with. To help illustrate the difference between dicots and monocots, try to recall our child biology lessons when we planted a bean (dicot) and corn (a monocot). The bean came up with two leaves and spread out more horizontally. The corn came up with one singular bold leaf, almost like a blade of grass and definitely vertical. Both were plants but both grew and had a form distinctly different but complimenting each other.

Apply the stark contrast between monocot and dicot plants of beans and corn to something more subtle, like mixing the monocot daffodils with a low lying ground cover such as verbena or with other flowers like pansies or snapdragons. In simple terms, daffodils with their bold and grass-like foliage are very easy to pair with other common flowers that often have wider leaves and more horizontal growth habits. Using daffodil flowers in your garden is pleasant to the eye and makes it look like you really know what you are doing with garden design!

Where should I plant daffodil bulbs?

Here are the top 5 things to consider when planning your garden with daffodils:

  1. Ensure they will have plenty of sun during their late winter and spring growing season
  2. Plant them in a spot where you will not be tempted to do any of the following to the foliage after the bloom: cut, mow, tie, hide, braid, or otherwise not let the daffodil foliage brown up and die down naturally
  3. Plant where they can be seen and enjoyed
  4. Choose the right companion plants that will either be dormant and cut back while the daffodils are growing, or that won’t compete with the daffodils during their growing season
  5. Avoid planting in areas that will have standing water all winter long

 

Plant daffodil bulbs where they can receive full winter sun in the garden and in a spot where you can enjoy them! Since daffodils grow in the late winter and early spring, you need to know where the sun shines on your garden during the winter months. You might not be able to plant daffodils right up against the north side of your house because the sun in the winter hangs low on the Southern Hemisphere, and your house will block them from getting enough sun. If daffodil bulbs do not receive enough sun, they will continually send up a lot of green foliage every year with very few blooms.

You may plant daffodils under deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter, such as red oaks, crapemyrtles (crape myrtle vs. crapemyrtles, one word or two word discussion can be found here), pecan trees, ginkgo trees, and many other tree selections.   Sometimes you can plant daffodils under live oaks along the perimeter of the tree line, if the garden is receiving enough sun, but large mature live oaks, cedar trees, and pine trees often shade areas causing the daffodils not to bloom. Check out our section below on the top reasons daffodils do not bloom.

Consider planting daffodils where they have room to clump, propagate, and multiply over years of growth. For example, don’t plant them right next to a sidewalk, but rather come in about 6 inches so they have some room to expand. The same would go with other perennial companion plants (click here for a quick list of perennial companion plants with daffodils), even perennials that are cut back in the winter like a lantana. For a list of other perennial companion plants that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall, check out our list of perennial flowers for gardeners here. Plant the daffodils about a foot away from the base of other perennial companions so you have room to cut back the perennial and give the roots some extra space to grow.

Don’t stress too much about where to plant daffodils! You can always move them later. The number one reason daffodils don’t bloom is because customers forget or get too busy to plant them. Take a break, grab a shovel, and go plant them in the ground!

When should I buy daffodil bulbs online? What does it mean to ship bulbs "in the green"?

The best time to buy daffodils online is in September. Most online flower bulb companies sell daffodils from growers in The Netherlands, and those fresh daffodil bulbs start arriving from overseas to the United States around August and September after the daffodils were harvested from growing regions like Holland. By ordering in September, you generally have the largest selection of varieties and the freshest bulbs.

You should also buy some daffodils when they are available from reputable sources. The Southern Bulb Company grows many of our heirloom daffodil varieties in our daffodil fields here in Texas. We loosely define an heirloom bulb as a variety grown before major commercial hybridization of large trumpet daffodils began. These heirlooms are generally not available from overseas sources and amounts are limited. We ship these bulbs “in the green” in the spring which means they will ship having recently bloomed and with foliage on them. Plant the bulbs, with foliage and all in the ground and let the foliage turn brown and die back naturally.   Another option is to not plant the flower bulbs and store the bulbs with the foliage in a cool, dark, and well ventilated spot, and most importantly let the foliage die down naturally. In other words, DON'T cut the foliage of bulbs when you receive them in the green. 

With these locally grown heirloom daffodils, shipping them "in the green" allows us to:

1)     Ship them during the bloom season when most gardeners are thinking of and remembering to plant daffodils; therefore, they will be available at various times from January through late spring and into the summer

2)     Ensure correct identification of the flower bulb. These are heirlooms and buying and receiving the right genetic selections is important to having varieties that are perennials and will naturalize in your garden

3)     Offer more bulbs at lower prices to customers

Remember that bulbs shipped in the green are coming to an end of their growth cycle. You can expect:

1)     The foliage to yellow and die down naturally. Don’t cut the foliage. This is a natural process of the daffodil leaves sending nutrients back down to the bulbs

2)     The bulb to be dormant in the summer and early fall

3)     Roots to start growing in mid-fall

4)     Foliage to appear next January

5)     Bulbs to bloom next season

 When should I PLANT daffodils?

Plant daffodils:

1)     As soon as you can

2)     When you have time

3)     When they are given to you

4)     In the summer and fall

5)     When you are thinking about them!

In summary, don’t delay planting your daffodils! Perfect is the enemy of good. It is surprising how many customers, friends, family, and even the well-trained master gardeners have daffodil bulbs but for one reason or another, they do not get around to planting them. Traditionally, people plant daffodils in the fall, and this allows for overseas growers to harvest, clean, sort, and ship the bulbs to customers around the world. Locally grown bulbs can be planted from late spring all the way through summer, fall, and winter.

The worst times to plant the bulbs is:

1)     After you let them sit in your garage for two years

2)     Right before or during a very hard freeze or flood event

When SHOULD I dig, divide, and transplant daffodil flowers?

The absolute best time to dig and divide daffodils is after they bloom and the foliage has almost died down completely in May. Is this practical though? A much more practical answer on when to dig, divide, and transplant daffodils is a familiar answer: when you have time! Yes, you really should not dig them in late fall after they just started to put out roots and grow foliage, but you can if you need to (like if you are moving, or a road expansion project is going to wipe out an old house garden with generations of heirloom flower bulbs).

Sometimes the easiest time to move daffodils in your garden is when they are blooming.

1)     You can easily identify the flower

2)     The foliage is up, so you know exactly where the bulbs are (even the small baby offsets)

3)     The rest of your perennials (and weeds for that matter) are mostly dormant so you have some space to move around

4)     You can quickly plant them in other prepared areas and sometimes they don’t even know they were out of the ground

How do I plant daffodil bulbs? How deep do I plant daffodil bulbs?

Plant daffodil bulbs with the bulb completely under the ground with several inches of soil over the bulb. While it helps to have the roots down and the pointy end up, it is not essential. Some tips to proper planting of daffodil bulbs:

1)     If you don’t know which way is up, plant the bulb on its side

2)     If you’re not sure how deep you should plant the bulb, plant it 2 to 3 times its height under the ground

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 Let’s look at 4 different techniques to successfully plant daffodils in your garden:

 1)    Perennial Garden Daffodil Design

2)     Bold, Colorful, and Highly Visible Daffodil Plantings

3)     Naturalized and Woodland Plantings of Daffodils

4)     Arboretum Daffodil Plantings

5)     Trial Plantings

Perennial Garden Daffodil Design

In a garden at your house, daffodils often look good planted in clumps of 2 or 3 together. To achieve this, simply dig a hole with a shovel, use the shovel to cave in the sides of your hole and flatten the bottom out some, and throw in the bulbs. While the hole is open, I often add some fertilizer or potting soil so that their roots will have the nutrient rich additives close to their growing region where they can readily absorb it. I cover the hole back up and try to keep the squirrels away from digging up my freshly planted bulbs!

Bold, Colorful, and Highly Visible Daffodil Plantings

Another technique I use to plant daffodils in a home garden, is designate a certain area as an “all bulb area” that I change out seasonally and plant with companion annuals. I reserve this more intensive method for smaller areas that have high visibility, like by the entrance to our front door, a patio location in our backyard, or by the mailbox by the road. With this method of planting daffodil bulbs, I remove all of the soil in the area to a depth of about 5-6 inches and put that soil on a nearby tarp or in a wheelbarrow. I put a fresh layer of nutrient rich potting soil into my excavated area. Then I space all the daffodils out on top of this newly laid soil. I space the daffodils a couple of inches apart – this is almost like square foot gardening with flower bulbs, and I place about 5 daffodils per square foot.

Once I have the daffodil bulbs laid out in a pattern and proximity that I like, I use the excavated soil and start covering the daffodils. Before I have all of the bulbs fully covered, I use colorful annuals in 4 inch pots to fill in the spaces between the daffodils. This means the bulbs are a little deeper than the annuals, but I still have the daffodil tops exposed so I can see to not plant the annuals right on top of the bulbs. The remaining soil is used to cover the bulbs and fill in the gaps around the annuals. I keep extra potting soil on hand to fill in any gaps. This planting will generally look good from the time of the planting through the next 3 to 4 months as the spot grows into a masterpiece. The climax is the bloom of the bulbs, and generally we have cars stopping to take pictures, even though this was just a small spot. I plan to pull all of the annuals and bulbs up once the garden area peaks and then repeat the above process for the next flower bulb. In this case, after the daffodil or tulip blooms are finished, I’ll prepare a summer bed with caladiums. I repeat this process about 3 times a year: paperwhites for the fall/holiday season, tulips or daffodils for late winter/spring, and caladiums for the summer. Yes, daffodils are perennials. I could leave them in the ground and not need to replant them each year, but I also enjoy using daffodils in seasonal displays in certain areas.

Naturalized and Woodland Plantings of Daffodils

In deciduous forest or woodland settings, there is a fun daffodil bulb planting method for areas where I want to plant hundreds of daffodils for a natural look. Grab a bag and fill it with daffodil bulbs. Make sure the bag is not too heavy and that you can comfortably reach into the bag and grab handfuls of daffodil bulbs. Reach into the bag, grab some flower bulbs, and scatter the daffodil bulbs like you are spreading seed.   Do this in the fall once temperatures have started to cool some but before the leaves fall off of the deciduous trees. This should ensure the bulbs aren’t exposed to brutal summer sun and heat, and the soon to fall leaves will act as a natural mulch. Remember, our farm is in a zone 8 climate, so even though we do get freezes, they are rarely hard freezes like a zone 6 or colder, so the leaves provide plenty of cover for these shallowly planted daffodil bulbs. Over time, the years of falling leaves and the natural growth of the daffodils allow the daffodil bulbs to bloom reliably each year.   This method is best used with heirloom flower bulbs that often adorn hay meadows where old house gardens remain, but the house itself has long been torn down and removed. These heirloom daffodils and heirloom narcissus have proven themselves to bloom for well over 100 years, while modern, larger trumpet daffodils have a tendency to grow only foliage with very little bloom after about 5 years.

Arboretum Daffodil Plantings

In an arboretum or formal garden, daffodil bulbs are sometimes lined out and planted in more linear patterns. Daffodils are planted like this with other bulbs, so that landscape architects and arboretums with daffodil shows can stagger different selections that bloom at slightly different times. This keeps the color going. (Have you seen the Dallas Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum!? Out of this world and worth going to. Click here to see a list of all of the arboretums and form gardens I know of that have nice spring flower bulb displays.)

 

How should I care for daffodils? Should I fertilize daffodils?

 

The best way to care for daffodils is to plant them where they receive plenty of winter sun and plant them in a place where the foliage will be allowed to dry down naturally after the bloom. Daffodil foliage usually dies down and falls off naturally by the end of May. For more information on when to plant daffodils and how deep to plant daffodils, you can reference those two sections in this article.

Should you fertilize daffodils? Yes, you should fertilize daffodils that you plan to keep in your garden. However, with some selections of Narcissus, they will return and bloom each year with little input needed. Varieties such as jonquils, campernelles, Grand Primo, italicus, Texas Star, and Lent lilies seem to bloom each year with very little fertilizer addition needed. Other selections of large trumpet daffodils, such as Carlton or Ice Follies typically need the extra fertilizer each year to keep them healthy and blooming.

What kind of fertilizer do daffodils like? Daffodils like a well balanced fertilizer that is heavy on the Phosphorous and Potassium. They do appreciate some Nitrogen as well, but too much Nitrogen will cause them grow all foliage and contribute very little to the health of the bulb. Think back to our monocot and dicot example of corn and a bean – flower bulbs are monocots like grass, and if they receive a heavy Nitrogen fertilizer intended for grass, they will grow foliage like grass does. Fertilizers for daffodils should focus more heavily on bulb growth that leads to more and healthier flowers, and that can be achieved by supplying more Phosphorous and Potassium.

When looking at fertilizer selections, remember that most of them display an N-P-K ratio, which is a ratio of Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. A balanced blend of all 3 is OK as most likely your soil could use some more Nitrogen, but you typically want higher P and K numbers. Don’t forget to add compost and other organic materials which can help supplicate with other micronutrients and contribute to overall soil health.

What does forcing bulbs mean? Can daffodils be forced?

To force a flower bulb means to plant and grow the flower bulb in such a way that it is manipulated into blooming at a certain time. Some common examples of forced bulbs are:

 

  • Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceous) that bloom for Christmas
  • Easter lilies that bloom on Easter every year even though date changes each year
  • Amaryllis for Christmas
  • Hyacinths and tulips for special occasions

Daffodils can be forced to bloom, but in limited windows of time. We most often refer to forcing paperwhites, which are also a Narcissus, for blooms around Christmas time. Almost like clockwork, paperwhites will bloom 4-6 weeks after you plant them. Paperwhites will bloom about 4 weeks after planting in a pot if kept inside in a warm sunny spot. When planted outside, paperwhites will generally bloom about 6 weeks after planting due to the cooler night time temperatures in the fall.

You can read about forcing other bulbs, like amaryllis, Easter lilies, tulips and more at my blog post here.

Where do daffodils come from? Who is the Southern Bulb Company?

Daffodils originally come from Mediterranean Countries like southern Spain, Portugal, and France. With human migration and increased world interest in cultivated gardens, daffodils have been imported and naturalized across the world. This is a testimony to daffodils easily adapting to gardens as perennials in many different climates. Daffodils in the United States came with settlers from the 16th century and forward. Daffodils are grown primarily in The Netherlands and imported into the United States; however, many daffodils are grown commercially in other places around the world, including New Zealand, Ireland, the United States, and elsewhere. Of the original daffodils and Narcissus that were planted in the United States over the centuries, some have naturalized and continued in localized populations for hundreds of years. That takes us to the next question:

About The Southern Bulb Company and Daffodils

The company was started by a young horticulture graduate by the name of Chris, who later became known as The Bulb Hunter. That is me, and I’m the one writing this article. While this page might seem like it has a lot of information, I can geek out in a big way when it comes to flower bulbs and all things gardening. Check out my blog on flower bulbs, www.bulbhunter.com.

I started the company because I wanted to focus on flower bulbs that came back every year, also known as perennials. As a child growing up in Texas and California, we gardened as a family quite a bit. It was one fall Saturday that we went to a local garden center, and I was introduced to flower bulbs. I purchased a tulip and planted it that day. It bloomed in the spring, but the flower did not come back any year after that. You can read all about this little red tulip at the flower bulb blog, The Bulb Hunter. Needless to say, it caused me to desire flower bulbs that would come back year after year in the garden. Daffodils are excellent perennials that come back year after year in the garden, and that is one reason The Southern Bulb Company focuses so heavily on them.

So, who is the Southern Bulb Company?

The Southern Bulb Company began in 2003 from a college horticulture project. Chris chose to write a business plan for a flower bulb company that focused on flower bulbs that would return every year for warm climate gardeners which were primarily located in the Southeastern United States (i.e. the “South”).   Chris Wiesinger was a horticulture major at Texas A&M University and had gardened with flower bulbs as a child, spending many weekends with his family either mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, or going to the garden center to buy flowers. One fall, one of the garden centers had new colorful displays filled with boxes of flower bulbs. He planted a red tulip that fall that bloomed the next spring. The tulip was beautiful, and he fell in love with the impact flower bulbs can have in the garden, but it did not come back ever again. That is because the tulip was an annual, not a perennial. As a graduating senior in the horticulture program at Texas A&M, a land grant school that focuses on agriculture and engineering, he decided to answer this childhood desire for perennial flower bulbs by exploring a company that focused on securing perennial flower bulbs for gardeners, in other words, bulbs that would return every year.

One of his professors and later co-author of a book, Dr. Bill Welch, had explored perennial roses that grew on old house garden sites, and these were often called antique roses. He mentioned that these same old homesites often had heirloom perennial flower bulbs growing on them as well, and that those bulbs needed to be fully explored and focused on in the horticulture trade. Dr. Welch introduced Chris to many members of The Southern Garden History Society who very often owned pastures of old homesites where these flower bulbs had grown for generations. Sure enough, after months of meeting these members, other master gardeners, and driving down countless country roads, it became apparent that lines of daffodils marked old home sites where gardens and homes used to exist. On many of these sites, the homes had long been torn down and many of the trees were gone, but heirloom daffodils and other flower bulbs still marked these former homesites. With permission, Chris began collecting and identifying these bulbs building on the efforts of many great garden historians, authors, and homeowners…all of whom were very generous with their time, bulbs, and storytelling!

With these treasures of daffodils and other flower bulbs in hand, Chris moved up to northeast Texas to the sandy loam soils that had allowed sweet potato farmers to farm for years. Not knowing anyone in the county, Chris went to the county extension agent and told him of his idea to farm daffodils and flower bulbs in Texas. The agent gave Chris names of farmers in the area, and he began to call them. One offered a piece of land to farm for free until he was on his feet. After sleeping in a rented office in a nearby town and sleeping on sofas of former college friends across the state of Texas, the same farmer offered a little 500 square foot cabin in the woods near the new farm. Thus began the Southern Bulb Company, and rows of rows of heirloom daffodils began to be planted in the sandy loam soils of East Texas! The Southern Bulb Company continues to grow its own daffodils to this day, but it also works with a network of growers and importers from around the world to focus on high quality perennial and annual flower bulbs for customers across the United States.

Gardening with daffodils: an investment in your garden and relationships

Daffodils are a perennial investment in your garden, and one planting can lead to a lifetime of blooms for you and your children. By following some simple techniques, such as planting the right daffodils in the right locations, you can have a garden that grows in bold colors of gold, yellow, orange, white, and pink year after year. Planting daffodils and working in the garden is often an event that I do with my spouse and children. This is a time that allows us to communicate and see life in a completely different perspective. When my children plant the daffodils, they learn the joys of nature, and experience the concept of delayed gratification – working hard today for long lasting results in the future.

Here are some tips to enjoy gardening with daffodils with your family:

1)     If you and your spouse garden together, designate an area you both agree on for the planting. Talk about it for a few weeks over coffee and garden walks to make sure you are on the same page.

2)     Prepare the planting area for the children. If the only time you have together is one Saturday, don’t spend that whole Saturday pulling weeds and moving rocks around. Find some time to prepare the area beforehand. Also, prepare by selecting a daffodil that you know will do well for your climate: it’s kind of like fishing – you want the first experiences to be a success.

3)     Keep it simple with the children. Give them each a bucket or bag of bulbs and say something like “OK, I’m going to dig a hole, and your job is to come behind me, drop in the bulb, and cover it with soil.”

4)     Don’t educate them to death with a boring biology speech. They’ll learn by doing, and your educating comments will soak in as you plant! As they get older, if they enjoy gardening with you, they will naturally spend more time doing it and become more curious as they get older.

5)     Perfect is the enemy of good. You might lose some bulbs that miraculously end up in the lawn (or wherever)! Just be patient and roll with the punches.

6)     Celebrate at the end by doing something fun with them! For example, play soccer in the backyard, candy land on the floor inside, or have tea and cookies with them at a garden party/picnic!

 

We hope this guide is helpful as you explore gardening with daffodils! Below are some frequently asked questions and comments on other areas of interest in daffodils. Let’s get into the weeds with daffodils.

 

Daffodil frequently asked questions and comments

Top 7 reasons daffodils to not bloom:

1)     They don’t get enough sun

2)     You don’t have a perennial selection for your area

3)     The foliage isn’t allowed to die down naturally after they bloom (in other words, you are cutting your foliage too soon)

4)     Too much competition (this is a sun and nutrient issue usually)

5)     They are planted in standing water

6)     It is a selection that needs to be established for a year or two

7)     The daffodil was damaged somehow

What are the most popular daffodil varieties and why?

King Alfred Daffodil vs. Dutch Master

What is the difference between Dutch Master daffodil and King Alfred? Both have large trumpet shapes, and even though the large trumpet of the King Alfred made it a smashing success when it was introduced, it has proven to be genetically weaker to the stronger and longer lived Dutch Master. Here is a quick history lesson on the King Alfred daffodil. Probably the most popular variety is the selection known as King Alfred, but the true King Alfred daffodil seems to be lost to history. Now many of the selections will read “King Alfred Type” and this speaks to those varieties with large trumpet shapes.   As you can guess, it is the large trumpet shape of a King Alfred Type daffodil that makes it so popular, but it can be unclear these days as to the specific variety you are getting under this “King Alfred Type” label.

The Dutch Master Daffodil has the large trumpet daffodil shape and is very popular. It is one of the most grown daffodils in The Netherlands. It is a known and named variety that follows in the same vein as the King Alfred Type and is often referred to as King Alfred Improved!

Another trumpet shaped daffodil worth mentioning is the Carlton daffodil.

 

What some companion perennial plants to use with daffodils?

Companion perennial plants for daffodils are other flowering plants in your garden that often are dormant while your daffodils are growing and blooming in winter and early spring. As late spring approaches, around the middle of April, the perennials spring back to life, sending out fresh leaves and flowers during the late spring, summer and fall. These perennials are often larger, and help hide the dying daffodil foliage as the flower bulbs retreat into a semi-dormancy for the summer. These companion perennials will normally go dormant or die back with the first freeze in the fall, and can be cut back even sooner than the first freeze in the fall. With the foliage now removed from these perennials, large open spaces are left in your winter garden for the daffodils to begin growing and blooming, giving your garden year-round interest and color!

6 easy to grow and easy to find perennial companion plants for daffodil plantings:

1)     Salvia sp.

2)     Lantana

3)     Aster

4)     Esperanza (Tecoma stans)

5)     Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii)

6)     Plumbago

Some common perennials that can carry your garden structure and color from spring to fall include salvia, lantana, aster, plumbago, and many more. Companion perennials are the key to keeping your garden pretty and successfully enjoying daffodils. Without companion plants with daffodils, when the bulbs are dormant in the summer months, you would either be staring at bare dirt, grass, or weeds!