Narcissus


(Species: Narcissus spp - Family: Amaryllidaceae)

 

Narcissus and its origins

Narcissus is one of the most popular varieties across the globe and its genus includes several well known species including the Daffodil and Paperwhites.  

 

Originating mainly in Europe and some parts of North Africa, it was first cultivated in the 16th century and there are approximately 150 different narcissus species.  Thousands of cultivars have developed over time, providing a diverse range of flowers which vary in size, colour, shape and form. 

 

The name derives from the Greek word “Nark” which means stunning or stupor because it was believed that the scent of the narcissus had hypnotic properties.   It is also linked to the Greek Mythological character Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection and on his death, daffodils are believed to have sprung up and were named in his honour. In the language of flowers it symbolises selfishness and vain love.

 

Narcissus are characterised by 2-part flowers

  • One external flower with 6 or more light tepals
  • One internal flower with a "cup" or "trumpet" shape

 

Often yellow and white in colour, both elements of the Narcissus flower can also have different colours, producing some of the most striking and colorful but also very unusal flowers.

 

Seasonality: Narcissus in flower

Depending on the species, narcissus flower between February and May, however, some species flower in autumn.   

They can vary in height from 15-50cm and each stem can bear between 1-20 flowers and tend to be bare with long strap-like leaves that grow from the base of the plant.  Striking and often scented flowers, Narcissus flowers tend to be yellow or white and have red, orange or pink trumpets. In the wild, they grow in meadows, woodland and rock crevasses. 

 

How to Plant: Narcissus

A hardy perennial, Narcissus are easy to grow.  They should be planted in autumn, the earlier the better, placing the bulb at least twice, if not three times, its own depth and spacing them at least 20cm apart.  For best results, they should remain in one spot for at least 4-5 years before being considered for propagation.

 

Narcissus grow in most soil types but thrive in a soil that is loose so that it is well-drained but also well fertilised and rich in organic matter.   Plant in a space that is fully exposed to sunlight but this plant will also grow in a partially shaded area.    

 

Propagation of Narcissus

Narcissus is propagated by division. Divide offsets from the bulb in late summer and plant elsewhere to avoid overcrowding.  Certain species can be propagated by seed, collected in summer and sown directly afterwards in pots outdoors.