Diverse and dazzling daffodils

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Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder where the flowers is….

What better says “spring” than the sunny faces of daffodils? It may surprise you to know that Daffodils, botanically know as Narcissus, are one of the longest blooming genus of spring bulbs, starting often in February and continuing well into May. The other good news: they are long lasting and multiply easily and come not only in yellow but shades of pink, gold, orange and white. Add to that, they are pretty much critter proof and you have a solution for many gardens, in combination with other spring blooming perennials and bulbs.

Garden writers often attempt to write about daffs in the fall, when they become available in the stores and online. But I’ve found over the years that gardeners are most attuned to spring bulbs in the spring, when they see and admire these bright spots dazzling their own or someone else’s gardens. So here is a brief rundown of some of my favorite varieties and their bloom time. Make a list of your own! These images are courtesy of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, one of the best sources for high quality, good sized bulbs that will thrill you for years and years to come.

Rijnveld's Early

Rijnveld’s Early

With thousands of varieties to choose from, it can be difficult to choose varieties that go together by bloom time, color and height. Garden’s Grace is always available to help you design your bulb garden! The bulbs are listed in order of bloom times.

‘Rijnveld’s Early’ is one of those daffodils that is small but packs power because of it’s extremely early bloom time, sometimes as early as February. As with all the bulbs listed here, this beauty is well-suited to our Iowa climate. At 7″ to 12″ tall, it is a dwarf that will make you smile and is happy to get the ball rolling in spring!



Narcissus odoratus flore pleno

Narcissus odorus flore pleno (plenus) is an early variety, March or early April, is a clear yellow, often double bloom daffodil. In addition to being quite early, it is known for its fragrance that makes it a great candidate for cutting when you are yearning for the early scents of spring. Brent and Becky Heath call this a “reliable perennializer.”

‘Delibes’ is an old and reliable daffodil that blooms early to mid-spring. As is true for many daffodils, it has a bright yellow petals with a yellow/orange cup with a bright orange edge. At 12″ to 16″, this cultivar could go in the “middle” of your bulb plantings.

‘Jetfire’ is another midsize daffodil that blooms in early to mid-spring. The angle of the petals or technically “tepals”–fused petals and sepals–is what they call “recurved,” or appearing to flex back toward the stem. At 12 to 14″, this is a reliable bloomer that is sure to return for many performances to come.

'British Gamble'

‘British Gamble’

‘British Gamble’ is “peach” of an addition to your bulb gardens. Opening to white and pink, this big and showing daffodil is seen in early to mid-spring. Who would want to miss this beauty emerging? Despite its name, it is fully hardy here in Iowa.

‘Pipit’ will spawn interest because of its lemony yellow petals layered around a white corona. Brent and Becky comment that this has won shows and is American bred. At 14″ to 16″, the bulbs will be sure to cheer you every time you walk by.

‘Accent’ has long been a favorite of mine because of its subtle salmon colored cup. I’ve seen it combined very nicely with peachy colored or orange tulips to excellent effect. The white petals further set off the pinkish cup and it blooms in mid-spring at 14″ to 16″ inches.

'Flower Parade'

‘Flower Parade’

The orange segments of the double bloom of ‘Flower Parade’ is another daffodil that can act as a good foil in mid-spring for tulips and other bulbs. The yellow is subtle and creamy–almost good enough to eat! This Narcissus is also a mid-spring bloomer at 13″ to 18″ inches, and could even be interplanted with ‘Accent.”

‘Blushing Lady’ begins the march of mid- to late-blooming daffodils. The pastel pink cup melds beautifully with the light yellow flower. This variety is one of several daffodils who bear two to three flowers per stem, increasing their color impact. The daffodil stands at 12″ to 14″ and is fragrant.

‘Sun Disc’ is one of the latest blooming daffodils in our area. The center of this small daffodil is a slightly richer yellow. The dark green strappy foliage and fragrance are fitting ways to finish out spring bulb season on a sweet note.

One useful way to get good impact from succeeding periods of blooms is to plant the biggest bulbs first, then layer the smaller bulbs in the same planting hole. Since bulbs are planted 3 times the height of the bulb, it’s pretty easy to sort out which bulbs will be planted less deeply.

So enjoy your spring and watch for combos and colors you love, take a cell phone photo, and come summer, start putting together your orders for fall planting. Note that there are early bird discounts for orders placed by July 1.

Blog written by Anne Larson, Des Moines area horticulturist and writer for Iowa Gardener Magazine, and a weekend associate with Miller Nursery.