With literally thousands of narcissi varieties to choose from, it can be a wee bit daunting to say the least, even for those die hards like me who love nothing else but to sit by the fire, seed and bulb catalogues in hand, dreaming. And why bother with them at all I hear you cry? After all, you can buy bunches in spring for next to nothing.
Ah, but can you buy that unique shape of head that you adore, with its fabulously soft butter lemon colour that will sit just perfectly in your spring floral designs? Or how about the one whose heady scent is utterly beguiling? Have I persuaded you yet?
At this point, I think it would be impolitic to hide my bias. Growing up in the land of my fathers, I have very strong associations with our national flower. My childhood memories are filled with seas of scented yellow heads. As you can imagine, there is the odd daffodil in Wales.
In my view, there is no point growing the common or garden yellow headed ones. Even if you love them, and I do, you really can buy them very easily and for next to nothing. Before you dive headlong into the bulb catalogues though, there are certain criteria I use to narrow my search.
Firstly, I am looking for robust growth and a good stem length. After all, I am cutting narcissi for floristry and this is a key practical necessity. You can get away with some shorter stems but you are making life tricky for yourself if you only grow short stems.
I’m always after scent, and while narcissi have their own unique smell, some have more perfume than others.
Lastly, I plant narcissi varieties that flower over different time periods, so I can have blooms to cut over a few months rather than in one glorious splurge.
The narcissi varieties I have planted this year include Actea with its scented white petals that surround its small yellow cup, all edged in red. It looks like pheasant eye but flowers a month earlier. I love the Jonquilla types too with their scent and several flowers on their long stems well into May. I have planted a mixture including Pipit Kedron, Golden Echo, Pueblo, Lemon Sailboat and Sweet Smiles, all close to the house so I can smell them as I walk passed.
The spring RHS show as Cardiff Castle is always a great source of inspiration for seeing the old favourites and for spotting new varieties. I always buy bunches of beautiful daffodils there. If you fancy a tour of this year’s show then have a look at my short video here.
I will plant more narcissi next year, then more again until in one future spring I have recreated those seas of yellow that I hold onto in the belonging of my minds eye. Take care how you condition your narcissi mind, as they ooze a gloopy sap that other stems are harmed by, so always condition these divas on their own.
I plant narcissi varieties that flower over different time periods, so I can have blooms to cut over a few months rather than in one glorious splurge.
There is still time to plant narcissi for cutting next year. They are a really easy crop and, with such a huge range of varieties available, are a great opportunity to differentiate your florals from others who do not grow.
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