You might know the lovely narcissus by other names such as daffodil or jonquil. You can count on them to come back year after year, giving you spring flowers from their bulbs. They are native to the meadows and woods in Europe, North Africa and West Asia with great numbers in the Mediterranean’s west side. Most of the literature agrees that without exception, the most common narcissus species found growing throughout America today were brought over from Europe by the early colonists and distributed westward by settlers from the East. Today Narcissus is mainly cultivated in the Channel Isles, the Isles of Sicily, Great Britain and Holland.
The connection in name to the Latin Narcissus is not certain. The word Narcissus is derived from the Greek word “narke,” meaning numbness or stupor. According to Wikipedia, the ancient Greeks believed the narcissus plant originated from the vain youth, Narcissus. He died after becoming obsessed with his reflection in a pool he could not leave. The Greeks say that the gods turned his remains into the narcissus flower. This also led to the daffodil being considered a symbol of unrequited love.
Narcissus grows up from pale brown colored bulbs and burst through the soil in early to late spring, depending on the species you choose. Each stem will show off from one to 20 blooms. You can look for color options of white, pink, orange-yellow to reddish. The bulbs are planted in late summer and fall. The Royal Horticultural Society acknowledges more than 140 varieties.
A popular indoor narcissus bulb to grow is the Paperwhite. They require little more than to be potted and watered to produce clusters of fragrant blooms. Usually the Paperwhites arrive in a kit. They are “planted” in stones or beach glass instead of soil.
Most all narcissus bulbs are easy to grow. They require little maintenance. Just a little attention to detail will give them extra energy though. Give them outdoor well-drained soil with sun to light shade. Plant most of the outdoor bulbs from August to November. Deadhead, but don’t remove foliage early. It contains valuable nutrients that will be used for next year’s crop of flowers. Leave the leaves on at least six weeks after flowering, even if they get a little unsightly. Share with a friend. Your narcissus can be easily propagated with seed collected and dried and shared. Whatever name you call them, they are true classic beauties.