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) Jonquils have deep golden blooms that appear in late February and early March to brighten up a late winter garden when not much else is blooming
3) They are perennials that will also naturalize and fill large areas with blooms
Keep reading to find out how you can make jonquils a success in your garden, and how they have been a part of our culture in the past and are part of our culture now!
In this article, you will find the following information about Narcissus jonquilla:
• What is a jonquil?
• What is a jonquil flower?
• When to plant jonquil bulbs?
• How do I plant jonquil bulbs?
• How do jonquils spread?
• What color is a jonquil?
• How do you pronounce jonquil?
• What is the difference between a jonquil and a daffodil?
• Where are jonquils native?
• Jonquils in popular culture
What is a jonquil?
A jonquil is a small round flower bulb in the genus Narcissus, and it is known scientifically as Narcissus jonquilla and commonly as simply jonquil or the rush daffodil. It receives the “rush daffodil” name from the rush-like, dark green cylindrical foliage of the plant. Other daffodils, such as the Lent lily (Narcissus pseudonarcissus as seen here) have flatter, greyish green foliage. Juncus, in Latin, loosely translates to “rush” hence the name jonquil. I have also heard them referred to as jonquil sweeties, a name that says much about their fragrance, form, habit, and effect in our lives and gardens. To sum it up, here are the different names we see jonquils go by:
1) Narcissus jonquilla (scientific name)
3) Rush Daffodil
4) Jonquil sweeties
What is a jonquil flower?
Jonquils bloom with multiple smaller flowers on one stalk, and they have deep golden flowers that have a sweet and full fragrance. The golden color is the same on the petals and the small cups of the flowers, in contrast to many other Narcissus that have a slightly or drastic different shade of yellow between their cups and petals. Jonquils have often been uses in the past in the perfume industry for their sweet fragrance.
When to plant jonquil bulbs?
Jonquils are often planted in the fall as dry bulbs, meaning the bulbs have no foliage on them. Often, these flower bulbs are shared among gardeners and friends in the spring while they are blooming and are planted “in the green” meaning they still have foliage on them. At The Southern Bulb Company, we ship in the spring, summer, and fall and the first spring shipments include flower bulbs that are “in the green.”
Shipping these in the green allows us to:
1) Ship them during the bloom season when most gardeners are thinking of and remembering to plant daffodils
2) Ensures 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) Allows us to 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
2) The bulb to be dormant in the summer and early fall
3) Roots to start growing in mid fall
4) Foliage to appears next January
5) Bulbs to bloom next February and March
How do I plant jonquil bulbs?
Plant jonquils at a depth of 2 to 3 times the height of the bulb. For jonquils, this usually means about 2” of soil above the bulbs. Here is a good graphic for an example of planting 2-3 in a clump together:
Another method to plant jonquils includes an idea that is a little more unconventional. In the fall, old time gardeners would simply take the bulbs and scatter them by hand, as if they were throwing out garden seed. In this manner, they would spread the bulbs under deciduous trees, that is, trees that were about to lose their leaves for the wintertime. The shade of the trees would keep the bulbs protected from direct scorching sun for the few weeks that the leaves were still on the trees. When the leaves eventually fell from the trees, the falling leaves covered and “planted” the bulbs naturally. The tough jonquil bulbs took hold and eventually naturalized the area! We would not suggest this in very cold areas, but in places with more mild winters (Zone 8 for example – check out the USDA zone chart here), this method works and is a lot of fun.
In conclusion, there are different methods for planting the bulbs, but the most important thing to do is to actually plant them!
How do jonquils spread?
Narcissus jonquilla propagates sexually and asexually, meaning the flower produces seed (sexual), and the bulb itself divides (asexual), but Narcissus jonquilla also spreads through some other common ways. Jonquils are often seen spreading over large areas, as if some large painters hand spread the golden color across a landscape.
Here is a list of some of the ways the bulbs spread:
1) Sexually: Pollinators such as bees spread the pollen from one jonquil flower to another. Often times jonquils produce seed that are true to type (the seedlings grow up identical to their parents) but other times new and interesting hybrids occur (such as the campernelle seen here).
2) Asexually: Jonquil bulbs also divide from their base, or basil plate area, producing daughter bulbs which are identical genetically to their parents. This is what allows jonquils to also “clump” into tightly clustered pockets of 20 or many more flower bulbs.
3) Mechanically: When large jonquil areas are found in pastures this is usually because they have been plowed over by tractors during the late spring and summer planting months. For example, perhaps there was an old homesite where the original gardener planted jonquils. The house is no longer there, and the old house garden has now been plowed many times, slicing and dicing whatever bulbs were under the ground. When jonquils have their basil plate split, cut, or nicked, the result is often a proliferation of smaller bulbs, or bulblets, that eventually turn into mature blooming size bulbs. Cows stepping on the jonquils in open pastures can have the same effect.
4) Sharing: Gardeners share bulbs, and varmints inadvertently share the bulbs as well! Both dig up the bulbs and bring the bulbs to new locations. Both do not eat the bulb. Jonquils have a low toxicity, but it is enough to deter animals from eating them and humans should not consume them either.
What color is a jonquil?
Jonquil flowers are a deep gold color universal throughout the flower from the petals to the cups.
How do you pronounce jonquil?
Jonquil is pronounced in different ways, check out our illustration below, or you can click this link to Forvo.com for a pronunciation of jonquil.
What is the difference between a jonquil and a daffodil?
For a full discussion on what are commonly called jonquils, daffodils, tazettas, and paperwhites, check out our daffodil category page here, but this illustration below also helps quickly show that usually the common term jonquil often is used to refer to smaller cupped, multi flowering Narcissus. However, the true jonquil is simply Narcissus jonquilla.
Where are jonquils native?
Jonquils are native to western Europe, primarily Spain and Portugal. They have naturalized and spread to areas across the world, including Texas and the Southeastern United States. For example, here is a picture of Narcissus jonquilla spreading wild over a cemetery in Texas.
Jonquils in popular culture
I’m always fascinated by flowers making their way into popular culture. Here are some interesting tidbits:
1) Fragrance: read about the fragrance and its use in the New Perfume Handbook, by Nigel Groom.
2) Jonquil Siegel: I don’t watch much TV, but this name started to appear more and more in searches. Apparently, she is related to a reality TV star. I love the fact that someone would be named after one of the sweetest and most impactful flower bulbs.
3) In Bloom by Jonquil: line of women’s clothing!
4) Jonquil Tattoos: Alas, I’m afraid many appear to be daffodils. A true jonquil tattoo would have to speak to its naturalizing beauty and no body wants that many flowers tattooed on their body…I suppose.
To summarize this brief, yet inclusive, article on jonquils, it is clear they make an impact on gardens and in the lives of gardeners. Smell a jonquil, and you will be pleased. Sit down in a field of jonquils, and you will be relaxed. Gaze over the golden colors of jonquils, and you will wish Monet painted them. Plant them in your garden, and you will be glad you did.