plant of the month
Narcissus spp. (nar-SIS-us)
(Note: “Daffodil” is the correct common name for all species
in the Narcissus genus; “jonquil” refers to one
particular species, N. jonquilla; and “polyanthus
Narcissus” is the common name of the miniature multiflowered
species, N. tazetta, which includes the ‘Grand Soleil
d’Or’ and ‘Paper-white’ varieties.)
Narcissus blooms, which are
atop hollow, slender, leafless stems and face perpendicular to
the stems when open (the gooseneck stage), have petals fused to
the base of a trumpet-shaped cup (corona). Blooms can be single
(with six petals) or double (12 or more petals), and they can
occur individually (the larger-flowered species) or in clusters
(the miniature-flowered species). Cups can range from small to
large and from shallow to deep.
Although the slender
stems, which typically range from 12 to 24 inches in length,
depending on variety, are leafless, these plants do have basal
straplike foliage, which grows from the tops of the bulbs
alongside the stems.
Narcissi are available with
yellow, orange, peach, pink, white, cream or greenish petals,
with yellow, orange, peach, salmon, pink, white, cream or
Potted Narcissi can
last from five to 14 days, depending on variety, maturity of
blooms at the time of purchase, care received and environmental
conditions (see “In-Store and Consumer Care”).
Depending on species,
Narcissus plants are generally available from November
in-store and consumer care
Potted Narcissi prefer bright filtered or indirect sunlight (no
direct sun). (See “Challenges” for more information.)
These bulbs require moderately moist soil at all times, but
avoid letting pots stand in water.
Cool indoor environments are required—ideally, 60 F to 65 F
during the day, 50 F to 55 F at night. In store, these plants
can be displayed or stored in a floral cooler at 33 F to 41 F
for up to three days; extended cold storage, however, can cause
leaf yellowing and reduce longevity.
are moderately sensitive to ethylene, so ensure that your plants
are treated with an antiethylene agent at the grower or during
Potted Narcissi don’t require fertilizer because,
essentially, all of the food they need is stored in the bulbs.
In addition to pots with soil, these bulbs can be grown indoors
in containers with only gravel and water (see feature on pages
27-28 in the February 2011 issue).
Narcissus bulbs will not rebloom indoors, so after they have
finished blooming, advise consumers to remove the bulbs from the
pot; allow them to dry; remove the dead foliage; store the bulbs
in a cool, dry place; and plant them outdoors in the fall.
‘Paper-white’ bulbs are best discarded after blooming.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Occurrences are rare, but spider mites and aphids can infest
BUDS FAIL TO OPEN
This problem is usually the result of inconsistent and/or
insufficient watering and low humidity.
LONG, LIMP STEMS / LEAVES
Causes include insufficient light and/or high temperatures.
Hot or cold drafts, incorrect watering (too much or too little)
and/or insufficient light are the usual reasons.
Storage at too high temperatures and/or small, poor-quality
bulbs are common causes.
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All Narcissus species contain crystalline alkaloids,
especially in the bulbs but also in the leaves, that
are toxic to both humans and animals, causing
digestive, nervous system and even cardiac
Some species also can cause mild to severe contact
dermatitis in some people.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Flower lore says this flower was named for Narcissus, a
beautiful Greek youth who became so entranced by his
reflection in a pool of water that he was unable to
leave and wasted away to death.
Narcissus is a member of the Amaryllidaceae
family. Close relatives include amaryllis, Clivia,
Nerine and Eucharis.
HOME SWEET HOME
Narcissi are native to Europe and North Africa.
Potted Narcissi, like many bulb plants, are
relatively short lived, so purchase them when the buds
are still green or showing just a tinge of color and are
in the “pencil” stage (unopened and pointing upward)
Some information provided
Chain of Life Network® ,
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, The, by Barbara Pleasant
Houseplant Encyclopedia, The, by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger
House Plant Expert, The, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Hortus Third, by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
SAF Flower & Plant Care, by Terrill A. Nell, Ph.D., and Michael
S. Reid, Ph.D.
Spring-Flowering Bulbs, by Dr. A.A. De Hertogh
Photos: Flower Council of Holland