April 8, 2019 By Noemi Van In Garden Plants
I expressed the opinion previously that N. watieri, a tiny jonquil, was not easy to grow and it does, in most cases, warrant that reputation. I grew six bulbs for something over ten years in a well-drained bed.
The choice of what species or cultivar to grow depends on the facilities the garden can offer for their accommodation. In an alpine lawn, or dwarf shrubs, or ledges in the rock garden, N. cyclamineus, N. minor, N. rupicola, N. bulbocodium and cultivars derived from them will be most suitable. For naturalising, the taller N. poeticus, N. pseudonarcissus, and the stronger-growing, more vigorous hybrids are to be preferred. To provide a spring bedding, or in groups down the border, great play can be made with the brighter modern hybrids.
Narcissus thrive best in a strong, fertile, well-drained soil. They do not appreciate being planted in soil dressed with fresh farmyard manure, as I discovered to my cost some years ago. Once established, the flowering of the bulbs will be improved by an annual feed with a complete fertilizer at 2 oz (56 g) per square yard, each year in February. Bulbs are best planted in August, if possible, so that the roots are well established by the time growth stops at the onset of cold weather.
Depth of planting depends on the bulb size: smaller species 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) deep, larger-flowered species and hybrids 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) deep in bare soil, 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep in grassed-down land. Experiments have shown that if the foliage is left for six weeks from when the flowers fade, it can then be cut without appreciably harming the next season’s blossoming.
With the more temperamental species I err on the side of caution by letting the foliage wither away naturally. Narcissus are such a lovely embellishment to the spring scene that they are worth a place in the most selective gardens. That they are so widely planted is a compliment to their popularity.
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