21 March 2023

One of the few brave flowers that dares to poke through the ground at this time of the year is the daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus).  That is probably why it is designated as the flower to represent those born in March.

The story goes that the flower is named after the Greek, Narcissus, son of Cephissus.  Cephissus was the god of rivers.  The legend is that Narcissus fell in love with his own image in the water and when he died staring at himself, a daffodil bloomed in that spot.

Daffodils are native to northern Europe and will bloom in almost any area of North America, except those in extremely hot or very wet areas.  Originally it was either yellow, white or a combination of the two, but now can be found in many colors like pink and orange.  They have a single bloom per stem, which is composed of up to six petals and a crown shaped like a bell or trumpet, which is wavy or frilled on the edges, sometimes thought of as a cup and saucer.  It can grow up to two feet in height.

Narcissus is the genus and there are many flowers in that category.  For instance jonquils are daffodils, but not all daffodils are jonquils.

Because it is an early bloomer, daffodils are symbols of rebirth and new beginnings.  They also are associated with inspiration, forgiveness, and creativity.  Many countries have legends or beliefs about these flowers:

  • Wales – Whoever spots the first daffodil of the season will be blessed with weath during the year. They are also the national flower for that country and are worn on March 1, St. David’s Day.
  • China – When the daffodil’s blooming coincides with the first day of the new year, there will be wealth and fortune for the remainder of that year.
  • France – A sign of hope.
  • The Middle East – An aphrodisiac and a cure of baldness.
  • They are a symbol for cancer charities around the world. In Wales scientists have used a chemical from the plant in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.

Daffodils are a traditional gift for tenth anniversaries but a single flower connotes misfortune, so be sure to have a nice bouquet.

As a perennial, this flower will return to bloom year after year.  Often planted as a border but they can also be effective as pops of color in any open spot. The bulbs are planted with the pointed side up in the fall but before the first hard frost.  The bulbs need a period of cold temperatures to develop a good root system.  They like a mildly acidic soil that is well drained and partial shade.  Plant them about six inches apart in groups of  three to six or more and from six to eight inches deep.  The larger the bulb, the deeper it can be planted.  Be sure the bulb is firm to the touch.

In the spring, just when you see the greenery pop through the soil, mix up some commercial plant food and give them some nourishment.  Then you are through with feeding for the entire year.  After the blooms are spent, remove them but leave the foliage.  This will allow the plant to create and store food for the next year.  When the leaves turn yellow or brown, you can cut them back.

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