Types of Daffodils and When to Plant Bulbs


Most everyone is familiar with the yellow trumpet-shaped daffodils that announce the return of spring each year. These attractive flowers are easy to grow. Because the bulbs are poisonous, deer, mice, and other rodents leave them alone. They naturalize well and look great in mass plantings.

Daffodils grow from bulbs. The flowers consist of a central cup or trumpet, properly called a corona, surrounded by six petals, called the perianth. Flower color ranges from yellow and white to orange and pink. Many varieties have bi-color blooms and range in height from 4 to 20 inches. They are good for forcing and as cut flowers.

Growing Daffodils

Daffodils grow well in zones 3-8. Plant them in full sun to partial shade. A site under deciduous trees is fine; the flowers will be blooming and actively growing before the trees leaf out in the spring. The bulbs need well-drained soil as they can rot in damp soil.

Plant bulbs in the fall. In cold climates, planting bulbs in early fall gives them time to grow roots before the ground freezes. Bulbs should be planted about six inches deep, or three times as deep as the bulbs are wide. For best effect, plant daffodils in groups of twelve or more. You don't have to fertilize when planting, but give them some bulb food every spring after they bloom.

After the blooms fade, allow the leaves to die back naturally. This is how the plants make food for next year's flowers. You can hide unattractive foliage by interplanting with perennials such as daylilies and hosta. To bloom, the bulbs need a period of cold. Thus, growing daffodils in the South can be more of a challenge. Some good choices for southern gardens include 'Carlton', 'Golden Ducat', and 'Ice Follies'.

Daffodil Types

General Information

Scientific name - Narcissus
Common name - Daffodil
Planting time - Fall
Bloom time - Spring
Uses - Flower gardens, naturalizing, forcing, cut flowers

Scientific Classification

Kingdom - Plantae
Division - Magnoliophyta
Class - Lilliopsida
Order - Liliales
Family -Amaryllidaceae
Genus - Narcissus
Species - Many


Height -4 to 20 inches
Spread - Varies
Habit - Clumping
Texture - Medium
Growth rate - Moderate
Leaf - Grass-like, green or grey-green
Flower - Yellow, gold, white, orange, pink
Seed - Only species daffodils will grow true to seed


Light Requirement -Full sun to partial shade
Soil - Well-drained
Drought Tolerance - Moderate

The scientific name is Narcissus. There are about fifty speciess. Most of the types grown in gardens today are cultivars, of which there are thousands. Each are divided into several different types. Here are some examples of those types that are commonly grown:

  • Trumpet This classic variety is ideal for flower beds. Each stem has one big, bold flower, and the foliage is gray-green. They bloom in early- to mid-spring and perform best in the middle and northern states. Popular selections include 'King Alfred', a standard yellow daffodil and one of the best known cultivars; 'Mount Hood', a cultivar with white-flowers slightly blushed in yellow when open; and miniatures such as 'Little Gem' and 'Midget'.
  • Large-Cupped Choose these cultivars for flower beds, cutting, forcing, and naturalizing. Blossoms are in many shades of yellow, orange, pink and red. Whites are also available. Popular selections include 'Carlton', a fragrant selection good for naturalizing and 'Salome', which has white petals and a pink cup rimmed with gold.
  • Small Cupped These daffodils last longer than most, blooming from mid- to late-spring. They range from 14-18 inches tall. 'Barrett Browning' is a cultivar with white petals and an orange-red cup. 'Verona' is a beautiful, greenish-white cultivar.
  • Double This type has a central cluster of petals instead of a single trumpet. They can have solitary blooms or up to 20 flowers per stem. Doubles are great cut flowers. Double cultivars include 'Tahiti', with yellow petals mixed with bright orange-red segments; 'Irene Copeland', a lovely cultivar with long, creamy white petals interspersed with shorter apricot-cream petals; and 'Acropolis', which has fragrant white blooms flecked with red in the center. 'Rip Van Winkle' is a 4-to 6-inch-tall miniature with many pointed, frilly, yellow blooms.
  • Cyclamineus The petals on these blossoms are reflexed, giving them a windswept appearance. They are good for borders, rock gardens, and naturalizing. They are among the first to bloom in the spring and also force well. Cultivars include 'Beryl', 'Jack Snipe', and 'Jetfire'.
  • Jonquilla These bloom in mid-to late-spring and often have fragrant flowers. Plants are 12 to 16 inches tall and have narrow, grasslike leaves. Each stem has several flowers. Jonquilla cultivars include 'Baby Moon', a miniature with all yellow flowers; 'Curlew', with fragrant white flowers; and 'Bell Song', which has clusters of fragrant white flowers with rose-pink cups.
  • Poeticus Blossoms have large white petals with small, red-rimmed cups. They are among the of the last to bloom and have a spicy fragrance. 'Actaea' is the most commonly grown cultivar.
  • Species Daffodils There are many wild forms that are good for informal gardens, restorations and naturalizing.

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Types of Daffodils and When to Plant Bulbs