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last updated Nov 19, 2012
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Narcissus 'Jet Fire. Credit: RHS Herbarium.

Daffodils have long been considered one of the heralds of spring. Planted in autumn, they spend several months developing roots before the flowers burst forth in spring. They can be planted in borders and containers.

Cultivation notes Back to top

Growing daffodils is similar to growing other garden bulbs. See our advice on growing and planting bulbs, and how to naturalise them in areas of grass.

Choosing daffodils Back to top

Daffodils are divided into 13 divisions, based mainly on flower form, and these divisions are often referred to in bulb catalogues. Some divisions are known particularly for their fragrance, or for their ability to naturalise in grass. A brief summary is given in the photo gallery below.

Narcissus 'Barnum'. Credit: RHS Herbarium.

Division 1 – Trumpet: These have flowers with cups (known as the corona) that are longer than the petals (known as perianth segments). E.g. Narcissus ‘Barnum’ AGM.

Propagation Back to top

Daffodils can be propagated by seed, division and chipping.

Cultivar selection Back to top

N. ‘February Gold’ AGM: Division 6, flowers in early spring, blooms 7.5cm (3in) across, golden yellow
N. ‘Tête-á-Tête’ AGM: Division 12, dwarf daffodil wiht golden yellow, slightly swept-back petals; good in containers
N. ‘Paper White’: Division 8 strongly scented daffodil usually forced for indoor display, with clusters of white blooms 1.5cm (0.5in) across; not fully hardy
N. ‘Rip van Winkle’: Division 4 daffodil flowering in early spring with greenish-yellow spidery blooms, 5cm (2in) across, with irregular, pointed petals
N. ‘Stratosphere’: Division 7 daffodil with up to three scented blooms per stem, each 6.5cm (2.5in) across, golden yellow with small cups


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AGM Plants

Problems Back to top

Daffodils can be troubled by slugs, snails, virus diseases and Narcissus bulb rot. Other problems include various rots and fungal diseases.

Sometimes daffodils can fail to flower or produce unusually small, pale flowers. This is known as daffodil blindness, and has a number of causes.

Quick facts

Common name Daffodil
Latin name Narcissus
Group Bulb
Flowering time Typically February to early May
Planting time September and October
Height and spread 5cm (2in) to 50cm (20in)
Aspect Sun or light shade
Hardiness Mostly fully hardy
Difficulty Easy