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Native to Europe and North Africa, these are arguably the finest and most valuable spring bulbs for the South. They are long lived, increasing naturally from year to year; they stand up to cold and heat; they have many garden uses; and they offer a fascinating array of flower forms, sizes, and colors. Given minimal care at planting, all thrive with virtually no further attention. They do not require summer watering (although they’ll accept it) and need only infrequent division. Finally, rodents and deer won’t eat them.
Flowering commences in winter in the Lower and Coastal South, in early spring elsewhere. The basic colors are yellow and white, but you’ll also find shades of orange, apricot, pink, cream, and even red.
Gardeners tend to use the names “daffodil” and “jonquil” interchangeably. Technically, however, “daffodil” refers to large-flowered kinds with flat, straplike leaves. “Jonquil” denotes N. jonquilla and its hybrids; they feature smaller, fragrant, clustered blooms and cylindrical leaves with pointed tips, reminiscent of quills. If you stick to calling them all “narcissus,” you can’t go wrong.
All have the same basic flower structure. Each bloom has a perianth (six outer petal-like segments) that surrounds (and is held at right angles to) a central corona (also called the trumpet or cup, depending on its length).