Every Blooming Thing

Courtesy photo/Kathy Bramhall

All daffodils and jonquils are Narcissus, but to the gardener, such as Red Bluff Garden Club member Kathy Bramhall, not all Narcissus are daffodils or jonquils.

I’m writing this the day after Christmas, ours was lovely, hope yours was too.. Here it is only 5-6 days after the Winter Solstice, and I’m thinking about Spring! I took a walk around my garden on the solstice and noticed several early things. My lilac bush is budding new leaves, the roses are still blooming, the irises are starting new growth, and one little bunch of Daffodil/Narcissus/Jonquil are blooming.

All daffodils and jonquils are Narcissus, but to the gardener not all Narcissus are daffodils or jonquils. My Narcissus are small flowered and usually bloom early. I have large flowered Narcissus that have large cups and bloom later. I consider the large-cupped ones “Daffodils”. Jonquil is another name for Narcissus jonquilla and its hybrids which have medium sized cups and are very fragrant.

Narcissus are native to Europe and North Africa, they were brought to this country by early settlers and spread west and now grow in all 50 states. The myth of the Greek God Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, does not reflect on these wonderful flowers.

Narcissus are one of the easiest plants to grow, if given some care and consideration at planting time. When purchasing bulbs, select firm heavy bulbs. In our hot-summer area, plant under deciduous trees or shrubs so they can have some shade on our hot summer afternoons, but get full sun when they are blooming in the early spring.

Plant the bulbs in the fall after the soil has cooled somewhat. Plant them as deep as they are tall and space 5-6 inches apart as they will multiply and fill in. Water thoroughly after planting and give regular water when there is no weekly rain.

Foliage will come up and soon after, blooms on longish stems. Once they have bloomed the foliage yellows and wilts through the summer—no water or very little water is needed. Sunset Western Garden Book recommends daffodil bulbs be dug and divided and then stored each year. I do not dig and store. I dig and divide only when the blooms get scarce, but since our soil doesn’t freeze, I don’t worry about digging and storing. Narcissus have few pests and don’t really need fertilizer.

The American Daffodil Society divide Narcissus into 12 basic groups, based on size of bloom, size of cups, color, and fragrance. Study up and be sure you know what you want when you are selecting bulbs.


Red Bluff Garden Club has resumed its activities with social distancing at meetings. Please join us the last Tuesday of each month, except July and December, at 12:30 p.m. at the Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on David Avenue in Red Bluff.

The Red Bluff Garden Club is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., Pacific Region Garden Clubs, Inc., and National Garden Clubs, Inc.

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