Early-Blooming Daffodils

Usher in spring ahead of time by choosing daffodils that bloom as early as winter.
Daffodils offer a wide variety of colors and forms, such as this yellow and orange double.

Daffodils

Daffodils offer a wide variety of colors and forms, such as this yellow and orange double.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Image courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Daffodils offer a wide variety of colors and forms, such as this yellow and orange double.

Nothing heralds the promise of spring like daffodils. But did you know you don’t have to wait until the season’s arrival to enjoy these little happy-faced perennial bulbs?

With a little planning, you can enjoy daffodils in the garden for up to six months. And this time of year, when we’re all starved for a reprieve from the bleakness of a frigid winter, that’s even better news. By choosing the right bulbs to plant in the fall, you can enjoy daffodils as early as late December and as late as May—depending on your climate.

Early-blooming daffodils have to be tough when you consider they’re able to poke their yellow, white and orange heads through rock-hard ground and crunchy wet snow. But then again daffodils, by nature, are tough little guys, which is what makes them so easy to grow.

Members of the Narcissus family, daffodils include up to 200 various species and more than 25,000 cultivars. They’re available in many different flower shapes, offer varied bloom times, and come in a wide range of colors from shades of the traditional yellow to orange, white, peach, salmon, coral and bi-colors—so you have tons to choose from! 

One of their best traits is that with time they naturalize, or multiply.  If they’re happy where you’ve planted them, they will create those beautiful meadows you see in springtime along country roadsides. Daffodils are also extremely cold-tolerant, blooming as far north as the Canadian border, and while they prefer full sunlight, they can take a little shade. What’s more, deer and squirrels aren’t drawn to them, though the latter are prone to dig the bulbs up anyway in their search for nuts.

Like most spring bulbs, they are best planted in well-drained soil during the fall, so that they can spend the winter storing up the necessary energy for sending up those stalks of flowers.

If you want to prolong their bloom season—and who wouldn’t?—choose varieties that flower in early, middle and late spring. Depending on where you live, you could enjoy daffodils as early as Christmas time and as late as Mother’s Day!

Here are some varieties to consider:

Early Bloomers

  • ‘Barrett Browning’ - small-cupped
  • ‘Tête-á-Tête’ - Cyclamineus Narcissus
  • ‘February Gold’ - Cyclamineus Narcissus
  • ‘Little Gem’ - miniature trumpet daffodil
  • ‘Topolino’ - miniature trumpet daffodil
  • ‘Rijnveld's Early Sensation’ - trumpet daffodil

Mid-Spring Bloomers

  • ‘King Alfred’ - trumpet daffodil
  • ‘April Queen’ - large-cupped Narcissus
  • ‘Peeping Tom’ - Cyclamineus Narcissus
  • ‘Professor Einstein’ - large-cupped Narcissus
  • ‘Ice Follies’ - large-cupped Narcissus
  • ‘Mount Hood’ - trumpet daffodil

Late Bloomers

  • ‘Quail’ - Jonquilla Narcissus
  • ‘Cheerfulness’ – double Narcissus
  • ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’ - double Narcissus
  • ‘Flower Record’ - large-cupped Narcissus

Post-Season Tip

After they finish blooming, the daffodil’s blooms and foliage may appear unsightly. Deadhead the spent blossoms if you like, but don’t prune the flopping foliage—even after it’s completely yellowed—because it continues to absorb sunlight and nutrients necessary for the bulb to store for blooming properly next year.

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