daff1Everything you need to know about these quintessential symbols of spring.

name games  
Known botanically as Narcissus (nar-SIS-us), these flowers go by the common names daffodil, jonquil and polyanthusNarcissus.

  • “Daffodil” is the correct generic common name for all species in the Narcissus genus but especially the species N. pseudonarcissus and those with the longest cups (coronas).
  • “Jonquil” technically refers to one particular species,N. jonquilla.
  • “Polyanthus Narcissus” is the common name of the miniature multiflowered species, N. tazetta, which includes the ‘Cragford’, ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’ and ‘Paper-white’ varieties.

daff2anatomy lesson 
Narcissus blooms, which face perpendicular to the stems when open (the gooseneck stage), have petals fused to the base of a trumpet-shaped cup (corona). These fragrant flowers can be single (six petals) or double (12 or more petals), and they can occur individually or in clusters atop hollow, leafless stems that, as cut flowers, typically range from 12 to 15 inches in length. Cups can range from small to large and from shallow to deep.

color schemes
Narcissi are available with yellow, orange, peach, pink, white, cream or greenish petals, with yellow, orange, peach, salmon, pink, white, cream or bicolor cups.

enjoy while you can
Most cut daffodils are available from January through April; however, some varieties also are available in December.

daff3best buys
Purchase these flowers when the buds are showing some color but before the blooms are open. Also, the blooms should be straight up (pencil stage) to just nodding (early gooseneck stage)—a 45 degree angle to the stem.

special care required
Attend to daffodils immediately upon their arrival in your shop. Remove any stem bindings as well as any leaves that may be attached at the bases of the stems, then thoroughly rinse the stem ends under tepid running water to remove any exterior dirt and debris.

Next, cut at least 1 inch off each stem with a sharp knife to remove desiccated (dried out) ends as well as dirt, debris and microbes (bacteria) that may have accumulated in the vessels.

Immediately after cutting the stems, place the flowers into a properly prepared bulb-flower-food solution prepared with cold nonfluoridated water.

Notes: Research shows that daffodils may not benefit greatly from the nutrient (sugar) in flower-food solutions, but they do benefit from the biocide contained within, which limits the growth of stem-plugging microbes, so always use flower foods in storage and arrangement containers.

daff4Also, be sure to isolate daffodils from other flowers because when cut, they exude a gelatinous substance that is detrimental to some other flowers, especially tulips, roses and Anemones. Keep daffodils in separate containers for at least six hours after cutting them. Some care and handling experts say that after that time, the harmful sap will have leached, and the flowers can be placed with other flowers, even if recut again, without affecting the other flowers. Other authorities, however, suggest that the stems should not be recut prior to arranging them.

cool and collected
Immediately refrigerate cut daffodils in a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F and at 90 percent relative humidity, and allow them to remain there during the six-hour leaching process. Be sure to keep stems upright in their storage containers to prevent stem curving.

no real issue
Daffodils are moderately sensitive to ethylene gas and usually only at extremely high levels; however, it is advisable to seek flowers that are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower or during shipping. Check with your supplier.

time of their life
Daffodils have a relatively short consumer-level vase life of three to five days. Vase life is highly dependent on variety, stage of maturity at the time of purchase and care received.