Plant Palette

Plant Palette

Daffodils

Photo of Jennifer Schultz Nelson

Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
jaschult@illinois.edu

Daffodils

As the weather begins to turn colder, and I'm forced to reluctantly put on a jacket as I start my day each morning, my brain knows it's a matter of time before the snow flies. But my heart looks to the future, past the dreary winter to the promise of spring. For the past few weeks, my mailbox has been overflowing with catalogs luring me into daydreams of spring gardens, particularly spring bulbs. If you, like me, can't wait to see those first flower bulbs poking through the ground each spring, now's your chance. Until the ground freezes solid, you have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a beautiful show of spring flowering bulbs.

I have to admit I'm biased in my appreciation of spring flowering bulbs. My all-time favorites are daffodils, for several reasons. You might think if you've seen one daffodil, you've seen them all. But think again.

There is a lot more variation out there than you might think. Not only are there double-flowered varieties like 'Tahiti' and 'Erlicheer', but there is a wide range of color available, from white to shades of yellow, into orange and red. My favorite additions are the salmon pink varieties. One pink variety, 'Salome' ranks as number two on a top ten list of best selling daffodil varieties published by the Netherlands Bulb Institute.

Daffodils also tend to be a very resilient, hardy bulb. All parts of the bulb and flower are poisonous, so you won't have all your hard work destroyed by hungry squirrels stealing bulbs this fall or curious deer munching the beautiful flowers next spring. They also aren't fussy about needing regular divisions to ensure blooming. In fact, some of my most beautiful daffodils are in clumps that I haven't disturbed in years!

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