2012-04-17

Bulbs part two - Narcissus

Narcissus .  .  Jonquil  .  .  Daffodil




The myth of Narcissus.
Do you know someone who is narcissistic? The definitive version sprouts from the famous Greek story about a young man named Narcissus. His good looks were given to him from the gods, but as most myths show, there was a catch included with the gift's promise. His beauty was permanent and he was immortal, as long as he never viewed his own reflection.





Once, Narcissus was hunting in the woods, a wood nymph named Echo saw him from her hiding place behind a tree. He was so handsome, she fell desperately in love, but Narcissus spurned her. She was so devastated by his rejection that she wept and wailed, and was ultimately consumed by her love. She pined so completely, that soon all that was left of her was her voice. Alas, the prophecy of her name had come true, Echo could only be heard now, but the gods were not at all pleased.

The goddess, Nemesis, heard about Echo's plight, and lured Narcissus to a shimmering lake. There in his vain state, he was unable to resist gazing at his own reflection, and fell in love with himself! As he gazed, the divine penalty took effect, and he simply faded away. In his place sprang up the golden flower that bears his name today. Now you know how Daffodils came to be, and also why psychologists warn vain patients about the “Narcissus complex.”

Narcissus classification

The species of Narcissus has thirteen separate divisions of daffodils, as determined by the The Royal Horticultural Society. Twelve divisions are determined by the physical characteristics and genetic background of each cultivar. The thirteenth division lists daffodils distinguished solely by botanical name.

The color code consists of two letters or two groups of letters separated by a hyphen. The letters before the hyphen describe the perianth or petal segments; the letters following the hyphen describe the corona otherwise refereed to as the trumpet or cup.
A perianth consisting of more than one color will be described with multiple letters beginning from the outer zone; a multicolored corona will be described beginning with the eye-zone.

In parentheses behind each cultivar name are a series of code letters used to describe colors of a daffodil cultivar.
The descriptive letters are:
W-White   Y-Yellow   P-Pink  G-Green  R-Red   O-Orange

Example: W-Y
Ice Follies; Div 2 - Large Cup; White perianth and Yellow cup


Narcissus divisions

Division 1 - Trumpet daffodil
One flower to a stem; the trumpet is as long or longer than the petal segments. The most familiar and beloved daffodil form, bloom­ing from early to mid-spring. King Alfred is probably the best known variety of this type.

King Alfred; Div. 1 - Trumpet

Division 2 - Large Cupped Daffodils
One flower to a stem; the cup is more than one third but smaller than the length of the perianth petals.  See photo above - Ice Follies.

Division 3 - Short Cupped Daffodils
One flower to a stem; the cup is  less than one third the length of the perianth petals. In some cases, the cup is so small in some instances is referred to as an "eye".

Seagull; Div. 3 - Short cupped
Division 4 - Double Daffodils; Three versions are included in this class.
A) Standard perianth, but the cup is modified - additional petals take its place.
B) Standard perianth, and the cup is filed with additional petals.
C) Standard perianth, the stamens have the appearance of like leaf-like forms

Tahiti; Div 4 - Double; Yellow perianth

Division 5 - Triandrus Daffodils
Several florets to a stem; usually somewhat pendant; usually mid season to late season bloomers.

Thalia; Div. 5 - Triandrus  W-W
Division 6 - Cyclamineus Daffodils
One flower to a stem; the petals are often pulled back; the cup is a more slender, tube-like.

Jack Snipe; Div. 6 - Cyclamineus  W-Y
Division 7 - Jonquilla Daffodils
Sometimes more than one flower to a stem; usually very fragrant.

Kedron; Div. 7 - Jonquilla  Y-O

Division 8 - Tazetta Daffodils
Clusters of flowers to a stem; low chill requirement.

Minnow; Div. 8 - Tazetta W-Y



Hardiness and Spacing

Unless otherwise noted, all daffodils are hardy in Zones 3 to 8. All grow best in full sun or dappled shade, but some varieties, the pink and red-cupped varieties in particular, give truer, longer-lasting color in partial-shade.

In warmer Zones 9 and 10, choose daffodil varieties that will grow without the need for a cold period. Hardier varieties, however, need to be pre-cooled for 8 to 10 weeks at 40°F to 45°F before planting in December.

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