Daffodils: maximum beauty, minimal care

Molly Rankin's yard is dotted and carpeted with spring-flowering bulbs. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

Molly Rankin’s yard is dotted and carpeted with spring-flowering bulbs. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like daffodils?

I haven’t. And don’t want to.

Of course, some people like them more than others.

Take Northwest Louisiana Master Gardener Molly Rankin, for example. She’s admired them since she was a little girl growing up in Union Parish, where the old-fashioned varieties have naturalized in fields and on roadsides.

Her home in Benton is dotted and carpeted with them in shades from butter to cream.

“They’re something you can put in the ground and forget,” she said. “With this much property, you need to put things out that take care of themselves.”

Her interested bloomed, though, when once she started digging naturalized bulbs for the NWLAMG annual fall bulb sale.

“We would dig bulbs in the spring so we could know what they are,” she said. “It’s hard – there’s so much similarity.”

So she set about educating herself about the different varieties – and adding them to her yard. “It just looks like they belong here,” she said.

Her favorites? Not surprising that they’re heirloom varieties.

Sweeties. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

Sweeties. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

“I used to say without hesitation little sweeties because of their fragrance. I do like campernelles because they’re showier and spread.”

Molly recommends combining the wildflowery heirloom varieties with modern hybrids for a bigger show.

If you’d like to add a long-lasting flower carpet to your yard, choose varieties that bloom from late winter through spring.

Here’s a general timeline – early to late — from Molly:

  • Lent lilies
  • Campernelles
  • Sweeties
  • Ice King. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

    Ice King. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

    Texas Star

  • February Gold
  • Sir Watkin/Stella (turns out the variety we know as Sir Watkin may actually be Stella)
  • Scrambled Eggs or Butter and Eggs
  • Ice King
  • Tete-a-Tete
  • Thalia
  • Geranium
  • April Beauty or Twin Sisters
  • Mount Hood
  • Trevithian
  • Pipit
Scrambled Eggs or Butter and Eggs. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

Scrambled Eggs or Butter and Eggs. Photo by Kathie Rowell.

Some, like Ice King, Tete-a-Tete and Mount Hood, are easily available in the fall at nurseries and garden centers. Others, like campernelles, sweeties and Lent lilies, are usually passed along from gardener to gardener. Or snapped up at bulb sales like that of the Master Gardeners.

If you have permission to dig a naturalized bulb planting, they can be transplanted now while you can identify them. The secret is to take a large root ball and just plop the whole clump into a new hole in your yard. Dividing them now could cause them to skip a year of blooming. If you want to divide them, wait until after the foliage has turned yellow and flopped over.

Next spring, friends will admire your golden touch.

 

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