Daffodil Expert Selects 5 Dazzling Choices for Fall Plantings
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By Jill Brooke
Brent Heath is known as the Horticultural Duke of Daffodils.
The owner of Brent and Becky Bulbs, his family has been growing flowers since 1900. The Heath’s farm happens to be located on Daffodil Lane in Gloucester, Virginia —which perhaps destined him to become one of the world’s experts on this delightful flower.
We asked him for his advice on selecting the best daffodils to plant in the fall for early spring flowers next year. After all, what says spring better than daffodils peeking out of the ground as the trumpets of a warmer season? They also make excellent cut flowers for early-spring bouquets and naturalize well and return year after year.
Best Daffodils to Plant
1) What is the most popular daffodil to plant?
Carlton, Saint Keverne, Thalia and Tete-a-Tete.
Another favorite is “Baby Boomer” which is a long-blooming garden cultivar that also has a captivating fragrance.
“They are all good performers, have been around for a long time, so they have a long track record and, because they have been around for years, their ‘price-points’ make them more affordable than some of the newer ones,” he explains.
However, one should always be adventurous in gardens. In the same way, you would buy a new dress or t-shirt for the fun of it, consider buying a flower for a little splurge and excitement.
This exercise also expands and stretches you because you learn something new. And each of us needs something to look forward to and experiment with each season while also knowing that we can rely on other plants to perform.
Newcomers on the Daffodil Runway
2) What are the new breeds on the market this year worth experimenting with and discovering?
Brent gave us a few selections to consider.
Like a yummy. apple, try ‘Golden Delicious’,
“This is one of our hybrids and is a multi-flowering, fragrant, golden-yellow double daffodil that is both strong and long-lasting,” he says.
Another choice is the Hawaiian Skies. “This is an American bred, long-lasting flower,” he says. “It has great substance and striking color contrast.”
Or perhaps feel cosmopolitan by buying “Cosmopolitan.” With its name, you know it will be definitely a showy flower. “It’s a spectacular, multi-flowered, sweetly scented ‘jonquil-type’; tricolored white/yellow/pink flower,” says Brent Heath.
Another option could be Flower Parade. It certainly is one I plan on buying.
It is worth noting that temperatures affect the colors. Warmer weather will bring out more pink hues and cool weather makes orange the dominant color in the same flowers. So when y0ou look at catalogs and websites, manage your expectations.
How to Plant Daffodils
1) Plant them when the soil temperature at 6″ deep is between 50-60 degrees F. For the North, this is September and October and in the South, you can plant till November.
2)This is about the time of the first frost. Plant each daffodil 4-6″ apart. Dig a hole three times as deep as the bulb is high and put in the ground with their pointy end up.
3) Select a spot with well-draining soil that gets plenty of sun. The biggest mistake gardeners make says Heath is “to plant the bulbs under trees, which blocks way too much sunlight keeping the daffodil’s ‘solar collectors’ (their leaves) from getting enough sunlight to recharge the daffodil’s batteries (their bulbs) and over time, fail to rebloom satisfactorily.”
4) Water well after planting and then you can wait until spring.
5) After daffodils bloom, don’t cut off the foliage, even after it gets yellow and rusty looking. The leaves nourish the bulbs for the next season. Daffodils naturalize and multiply by just waiting a few weeks after bloom and trimming.
Daffodils are a joy to plant and such an easy flower to have in the garden. Why does Heath love daffodils so much? “They are critter-proof – so no worries about our four-legged hungry friends,” he says, noting that they contain lycorine which repels animals. “And their predominant color is yellow – the first color your eye separates out of the color spectrum – and makes us smile.”