Flowering period: early/mid season
Planting depth to base of bulb: large bulbs: 20 cm; small bulbs: 12.5 cm
Spacing between bulbs: 7.5 cm for large bulbs; 2.5 cm for small bulbs.
Light requirements: full sun to full shade.
Landscape uses: Narcissi are suitable for almost every possible application: fields, beds, containers, borders, rock gardens, as cut flowers, and for forcing.


More planting tips

Narcissi can be used for almost any purpose and are even more versatile in the garden than tulips and hyacinths. The only use for which hyacinths and certain groups of tulips surpass narcissi is bedding. The great advantage to using narcissi is that they actually behave as perennial plants in the garden. This, plus the fact that they flower relatively early in the season, means that they are indispensable in the perennial border. Borders that include perennial plants chosen to achieve a summer explosion of colour will especially benefit from the early-flowering bulbous and cormous plants - and the narcissi are definitely the most conspicuous representatives of this group. They can play the solo role when planted among perennial plants that have not emerged or are just starting to do so. Later, the foliage of these perennials will nicely cover the withering foliage of the narcissi. Narcissi can also be combined beautifully with early-flowering perennial plants such as Euphorbia polychroma, Beronia, Primula, Pulmonaria, Pulsatilla, Alchemilla mollis, Brunnera macrophylla and late-flowering species of Helleborus. Another good use for them is under shrubs and trees with diaphanous crowns. Here, we can profit from the fact that narcissi can tolerate a certain amount of shade. Lovely combinations can be realised by planting narcissi with shrubs that flower simultaneously. There are many to pick from: Spireae x arguta, Amelanchier lamarckii, Daphne mezereum, Corylopsis pauciflora, Magnolia stellata, Rhododendron ‘Praecox’, Mahonia aquifolium, Spiraea thunbergii, Skimmia japonica, and Prunis triloba ‘Plena’. Plenty of arguments also exist for planting narcissi in the neighbourhood of sombre-looking evergreen shrubs and conifers. Here, their bright yellow and white colours will provide a cheery contrast.

Narcissi are also useful for planting among ground covers such as Vinca minor, Pachysandra terminalis, Lamiastrum galeobdolon and even Hedera helix. Naturalizing is one of the things narcissi do best, so they are perfect for planting among perennial plants, under shrubs and between ground covers. They can also be used this way in the lawn if measures are taken to avoid mowing their foliage before it withers. This will mean that the first mowing of the year will have to wait for six weeks after the narcissi have faded, or that mowing will have to be done between the narcissi plants. For naturalizing, certain narcissi are perhaps better than others. Recommended are: varieties from the Cyclamineus Division such as ‘February Gold’, ‘Jack Snipe’, ‘Jenny’, ‘Jumblie’, ‘Peeping Tom’, ‘Little Witch’, ‘Tête à Tête’, and ‘Jetfire’. Other good cultivars are: ‘Carlton’, ‘Actaea’, ‘Dutch Master’, ‘Barrett Browning’, ‘Birma’ and ‘Golden Harvest’.

Narcissi are increasingly being used in pots. Some of these are being sold as semi-forced products. At the time of sale, these plants are already in bud and can immediately be placed on the balcony or patio. Naturally, these varieties will be ones that have a small foliage mass and short stems. The highly versatile ‘Tête à Tête’ is one of these, but others include the ‘midi-narcissi’. These midi-narcissi have large flowers on relatively short, sturdy stems. They also come into bud early, meaning that they have highly visible flower stems at the time when leaf development is still just starting. A few worth mentioning are: ‘Beau Geste’, ‘Pistachio’, ‘Camelot’, Gold Medal’, ‘Modern Art’ and ‘Hokus’.

Courtesy of the International Flower Bulb Center (www.bulb.com)