Why Houseplants Drop Leaves

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

Houseplants drop leaves for many reasons, but most are related to improper care or poor growing conditions. Often just giving plants the correct light and temperature, or controlling pests, is all that is needed to prevent future leaf drop.

Either too much or too little watering may cause leaf drop. A common problem is that when you see leaves droop or even fall off, you may be tempted to think the plant is thirsty and needs more water.  This could lead to overwatering and even more leaves dropping.  Make sure when watering, especially in northern climates in winter, to use lukewarm water.  Icy cold water can chill the soil and injure roots of tropical plants, leading to root rots, leaves dropping, and perhaps even dead plants.

Extremely low humidity will cause sensitive plants, such as gardenia, to drop leaves although most common houseplants will not show leaf drop in response to low humidity only.

Fertility, or rather lack of sufficient nutrients, can lead to leaf drop.  With this, usually you will notice leaves lighter in color first, so you have a chance to correct this before leaves totally turn yellow and drop.  Use a houseplant fertilizer, according to label directions, particularly while plants are growing or flowering.

Plants in pots that are too small may drop leaves. Why? Because there may not be enough root room to support all the leaves the plant tries to form, so the oldest leaves drop off. Because the space for the roots is inadequate, the plant may not be able to absorb enough water and nutrients.

Some leaf drop occurs when plants are subjected to a big change in environment. Such changes occur when plants grown outside for the summer are brought inside for the winter. Greenhouse-grown plants may drop leaves if placed in dimly lit house conditions, when they’ve been grown in high light. Some plants just may require higher light to grow and keep all their leaves. Leaf drop brought on by a change in environment should be temporary and non-life threatening (to the plants), new leaves forming that are adapted to the new site.

Chilling is one cause of leaf drop related to environment. Tropical plants are sensitive to low, but above freezing, temperatures. Plants on windowsills may be exposed to chilling temperatures.    Hot or cold drafts may be a problem for some plants. The poinsettia is a prime example of a plant that drops leaves due to exposure to cold drafts of air.

Insects and diseases can cause leaf drop, but are not as common as the previously listed causes. Recently I had a variegated English ivy that was losing leaves.  On closer inspection I found leaves infested with spider mites. Washing plants well with mildly soapy water is a good start, and often all that is needed, for pest control.

Some leaf drop on houseplants is normal. Older plants should be expected to drop a leaf or two occasionally. This is particularly the case with plants that grow upright like umbrella plant or cane plant, losing lower leaves as newer ones form on the top.  The only solutions for this are to stake plants and live with this habit, to propagate new plants by air layering the canes, or to give away the plant and get a new more compact one.

If you’re not sure of the correct culture and conditions for your houseplants, check any directions that came with them, look online or in books, or ask your local full-service garden center.

(author’s note:  Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Best Succulents for Indoors

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

So just what are “succulents”? Generally, they are tender (not tolerant of cold) plants with thick or fleshy leaves. In recent years a whole range of species have been introduced to gardeners, mainly as outdoor seasonal plants, but which make great plants indoors too.  Here are ten good choices, starting with three of the older standards—aloe, ponytail palm, and jade plant.

Aloe (Aloe vera) is an ingredient often found in many skin and hair care products. It also is known to be very effective in treating burns, thus, it’s a good lotion to keep handy in the kitchen near the stove. Or, gently rub some sap from a leaf on the burn, then repeat after a few minutes. The burn will go away, and the skin should heal quickly. In fact, some of the newer sunburn lotions are close to 100 percent aloe sap.

Although aloe is grown in desert gardens in mild climates, it can easily be grown as a potted plant in our climate as well. The aloe will produce offshoot plants, which can be removed and potted.

Pony-tail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is not really a palm at all.. It has a characteristic palm-like shape, stem and leaves, with an expanded and flaring base.  The leaves are two to six feet long and are often twisted. The leaves actually do look like a pony-tail. The flowers and fruit are seldom seen in cultivation as plants must be quite large to produce them.

Pony-tail palm has a moderate growth rate and is often used in interior beds or as a potted specimen. Indoors, it usually reaches a height of one to three feet and a width of one to two feet. Under high light in conservatories, or where it can be grown outdoors, it may reach 20 or more feet high, with the flaring base several feet across!

The Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) gets its name from the Latin crassus meaning thick or swollen, which refers to the leaves and stems of this and many other species. The leaves are glossy green (dark jade color, hence the name), and occasionally have red margins. One cultivar even has variegated leaves. The flowers are star-shaped and white to pale pink in color.

Jade plant has a moderate growth rate and may grow one to two feet in height and width. The plant may need a heavy soil or pot to keep from toppling as older plants become top-heavy.  When watering the jade plant, do not let the leaves get water on them because this will cause leaf spots. If you are successful with this plant and want more, simply take leaf or stem cuttings and root them in potting mix to grow additional plants.  Watch for mealybug insects, small white masses particularly where leaves join stems.

Zebra plant (Haworthia fasciata) is appropriately named for it thick, dark green, fleshy and quite pointed leaves that arise from low on the plant.  They are quite marked with regular, horizontal white stripes.  Since its roots are shallow, you can give it a shallow pot.  Repot every year or two, as the plants need to get rid of old roots to grow new ones.  It only grows about 5 or 6 inches tall and wide.

Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) has whitish leaves from the soft hairs covering them, making them irresistible to feel.  Leaf edges often have attractive contrasting red hairs.  This succulent grows upright, from 12 to 18 inches tall.

Hahn’s bird’s nest (Sansevieria trifasciata) often goes by its genus name of just sansevieria (said as san-se-Veer-ee-ah).  It has a rosette of wide, tough leaves with irregular horizontal lighter bands.  It tolerates low light.  It is compact, only getting about 6 inches high and tall.  Leaves are typically green, but you may find ones with some gold.

There are a range of echeveria (said as etch-eh-Veer-ee-ah) you may find, with thick leaves in rosettes of white, roses, and blues.  Most remain a few inches high and wide. Don’t let water sit in the rosettes or it may lead to rots.  Remove any dead, lower leaves as these are a haven for mealybugs.

There are several senecio (said as sin-Ess-ee-o) you may find, generally with tubular steely blue  or grayish green leaves, and going by descriptive names such as “chalk fingers” or “blue chalk sticks”.  Some of these remain low, others can reach a foot or more tall and easily stretch if not in full light.  If too tall, simply “pinch” them back to promote branching.

Tree houseleek (Aeonium) come in many variations, from upright with shiny black leaves (‘Zwartkop’ black rose), to bright colors of pale yellow, white, green, and pink tips (‘Sunburst’), or pale yellow centers when young maturing to red and green (‘Kiwi’ or ‘Tricolor’).  Aeonium often have woody and long, sometimes arching, stems with the rosettes of leaves on the ends.  They somewhat resemble echeveria, only with stems.

Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) is actually related to the poinsettia, having a white milky sap (and other common name of Milkbush).  Avoid getting the sap on skin or in eyes, as it may cause a reaction.  Leaves as you might guess are pencil thickness, or less, and long.  Plants can be highly branched and get 2 or 3 feet tall and wide inside (up to 30 feet tall in their native Africa and India), but are easily kept in bounds with judiciously pruning.  This also helps correct leggy plants.  One selection with fiery red and orange young leaves, turning green with age, is called Firesticks or a variation on this name.

Although succulents prefer high light, they often adapt well to low light of homes. Best is bright light most the day, such as a south-facing window, or at least a half day of good sun as in an east-facing window.  If your plant starts to “stretch”, getting tall and lanky with space between leaves, it isn’t getting enough light.  Also, rotate plants weekly if they are bending toward a light or window.

Succulents prefer the dry humidity of indoors, and don’t like overwatering. But they do like warmth. Be sure to keep them away from door drafts, and from touching cold windows in winter.

A well-drained soilless mix with sand or perlite is the best potting medium. Although the fertility needs for succulents is low, plants may become pale and red if it is too low or they are too dry. One fertilization in spring, with a general houseplant fertilizer, usually suffices.

Allow the potting medium to dry between waterings. Make sure pots don’t sit in a saucer of water.  Water less when the plant is inactive, perhaps only once every couple of weeks, but water well when you do. When plants are actively growing, probably water them once a week. One rule of thumb is that the thicker the leaves, generally the less water the plant needs.  The thick leaves that make them “succulent” are designed to store water under dry conditions.

Jade plant and succulents with fleshy leaves are easy to propagate.  If you want to make more plants, simply place leaves on damp soil to root and grow new plants.

Consider and look for succulents this growing season for outdoor containers, particularly smaller containers you might bring indoors to enjoy over winter.  Many garden centers, greenhouses, and even mass market stores now offer succulents.  Look for small ones for smaller containers, dish gardens, or terrariums.  Keep in mind they will eventually grow, some faster than others.  Although they do well pot-bound, and this will slow growth, in a year or two they may need larger pots or at least repotting.

(author’s note:  Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Flowering Amaryllis Indoors

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

Although poinsettias remain number one in popularity for holiday plants, another plant that you’ll find commonly during late fall and winter is the amaryllis. It’s usually sold either in bloom or bulb ready to pot, is a fast grower, has a long bloom period, and requires minimal care.  This makes it a perfect choice for beginners or those without “green thumbs”, but its beauty is appreciated by even the more advanced gardeners.

The large trumpet flower resembles a lily, although it is not a member of that family but is a tropical bulb, originally imported from Central and South America. What we usually call an amaryllis (said as am-ar-ILL-iss) or Dutch amaryllis (since most of these hybrids were bred there) is actually a different genus (Hippeastrum).  The true amaryllis, or Belladonna lily, that you may find in specialty catalogs or stores originally came from South Africa.  Since either of these do not tolerate frost, they must be flowered indoors. Although the normal flowering season for the Dutch amaryllis is January through April, many greenhouses force it into bloom earlier to be ready for the December holidays.

Amaryllis (the Dutch hybrids) most commonly found include red, pink or salmon, whites, and bicolors of red and white. You may be able to find some miniature varieties at complete garden stores, or through mail order and online catalogs.  These smaller plants grow to only a foot or so high and have smaller flowers, but otherwise look like the traditional ones.

Many amaryllis plants are sold already potted.  All you do for these is to just add water.  The larger the bulbs, the more likely you will have multiple flower stalks. You can make a plant flower for a special occasion by starting it five to seven weeks before the selected date.

If you buy bulbs separately instead of pre-potted, or in kits complete with soil and pot ready to assemble, store them in a cool and dry location if you need to hold them for later potting or giving as gifts.  Although these will keep for long periods, if sprouts start to develop you’ll need to plant them as soon as possible. Be careful not to expose the bulbs to freezing conditions.

Pot bulbs in containers just slightly wider than the bulb, such as a 5 to 6-inch wide pot.  There should be about an inch between the bulb and side of the pot.  Or, you may want to put three bulbs in a 10 to 12-inch wide container.  Amaryllis grow best if slightly crowded.  Use a standard houseplant potting medium– one containing a large amount of peat moss and no soil.  Pot at a depth so the top third (the “neck”) of the bulb is exposed.  The potting mix should end up about a half inch to inch below the pot rim.  This allows space for watering.

A good way to not overwater (they don’t like to be waterlogged) is through sub-irrigation with warm water.  Do this by filling a pot saucer or tray underneath, then letting the soil absorb the water. After 30 minutes, discard any water that remains in the saucer. From this point until flowering stems are a couple inches high, water sparingly—only when the top inch or so of the potting mix feels dry—perhaps once a week. Watering too frequently or too much can cause the bulb to rot. Also when watering, make sure and use water that is slightly warm.

Put the freshly potted bulb in a warm location above 60 degrees (68 to 75 degrees F is ideal—remember these are tropical).  Near a heat vent or wood stove (not on the woodstove), or on top of a refrigerator are good locations.  Place your amaryllis in a warm location that gets about 4 hours of direct sun daily, such as south-facing window.  When the flower bud stalk is about eight inches tall, you can place the pot in a cooler location if you want to slow growth. When the first bud is about to open, keeping cooler (such as 50 to 60 degrees) will prolong the bloom period. Warmer temperatures speed up and cause earlier flowering.

Since bulbs are self-contained packages, containing much food for the season, they don’t need much fertilizer.  You may fertilize lightly—about half strength of your normal houseplant fertilizer– every couple weeks, especially while the plant is in bloom.

After your amaryllis has bloomed, don’t throw them out!  You can save the bulbs to reflower in subsequent years. Start by removing the flowers as they fade. Continue to water the potted bulb regularly throughout the spring and summer. Apply liquid fertilizer, according to label directions.   After all danger of frost is past in the spring, you can plant the bulb, pot and all, in the garden in a semi-shaded spot. Don’t place in full sun or the leaves may “burn” and turn brown.

Next September, take the potted amaryllis out of the garden before the first frost, and place it in a dry, warm place. Stop fertilizing and water less.  Leaves should start dying back, at which point you can cut them off.  Place the pots in a cool, dark place, and leave them alone.  If you use the crisper drawer of a refrigerator or cool cellar, make sure they are not stored with apples (these give off ethylene gas that may prevent bloom).

Bulbs are dormant and need a rest for at least six weeks.  Check weekly, and later in the fall when you see a new shoot emerging, start watering and treating as when you first got them— keep crowded in their pots, don’t overwater, give minimal fertilizer, keep warm, and give bright light (preferably direct sun) at least half a day.

(author’s note: Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

National Ornamental Grass Trials–Vermont 2015 results

Dr. Leonard Perry
Horticulture Professor, University of Vermont

This past winter was the best test winter yet for hardiness, plants experiencing some of the coldest soil temperatures in at least the last three decades (as long as I’ve been monitoring soil temperatures). In my northern Vermont trials site, we once again were zone 4a, with 4 days in Feb, -20F (air) or below, with   -27F (air) on Feb. 24. In colder years of the past, soil temperatures on average reached 28F, perhaps a few days to 25-26F in colder winters. In several recent winters, soil temperatures seldom dropped below 32F. This past winter, soils were 28F or below 21 days in January, and 16 in February. Of these, soils reached 25F or below 17 days in January and one day in February.   Of these latter, soils reached 22F or below 6 days in January, the coldest being 17F on Jan. 18.

It was a good test “spring” for plants too. As they were getting unhardened we had 6 days the last couple weeks of MARCH with air temperatures 10F or below, reaching 0F on Mar. 24! Four days the end of March we had SOIL temperatures 28F or below, with 22F (as in January, the lowest in over 25 years) on Mar. 23.

So it was amazing that as many grasses survived as did. Several switchgrass (Panicum) cultivars in which new plants had been replaced fall 2014 had several die. Of those living, overall results were similar to the previous year, only with slightly more growth (a bit higher and wider), and a bit better floral display on several cultivars. Most cultivars that had several plants were quite variable in growth, as in the past, among the plants. Most uniform among all plants of a cultivar were Dewey Blue and Prairie Sky. Overall best, s imilar to 2014, were Northwind, Prairie Sky, and Shenandoah. Also good this year overall was Rotstrahlbusch. one plant each were outstanding too of Rehbraun, Thundercloud, and Trailblazer (not officially in trials, and only one plant).

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium) cultivars survived much better. Best overall as in 2014 was Blue Heaven, but joining it among the best this year was Blaze and Standing Ovation (added in 2014, not officially part of the trials). All plants of each of these three cultivars not only survived, but were uniform among plants. Standing ovation at about 50cm high was half the height of the other two. Prairie Blues fared the worst, only one of the four plants surviving and rating only average.

Hopefully one final winter of hardiness data can be collected before these VT trials end spring 2016.  More grass trial site results, previous years, and photos can be found online (grasstrials.com).

(author’s note: Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Winterize Your Garden

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

Just as you make sure your car is ready for winter this time of year, so should you make sure your garden is ready.  Cleaning up the debris in your garden, removing dead foliage, and cutting back dead growth on perennials are some of the ways to ready your landscape for winter.

These are all measures that not only get your garden and flower beds ready for planting and new growth next spring, but they also prevent overwintering pests and diseases on rotting foliage.  Rake leaves from under fruit trees, especially ones that may have been diseased.  Be sure to throw out or burn any diseased foliage. Don’t put it into the compost pile.

Have you raked those fallen leaves yet? The grass is still green underneath and can use all the light possible to prepare for winter. Removing leaves also allows water and air to get to the living plants, preventing them from suffocating. For this reason, leaves, especially tough ones that pack down and rot slowly like oak leaves, do not make good mulch for perennials and should be raked off perennial beds.

Now is still the time to plant peony roots.  It’s too late to divide other perennials, but there’s still time to mulch shrubs, trees, and perennial beds with a loose organic material such as bark mulch or shredded leaves. Do it now, and you will have one less job to worry about in the spring. Mulches also help protect roots during winter from cold and fluctuating temperatures.

Don’t mulch too thickly–no more than a few inches–around woody trees and shrubs as the mulch makes a nice home for mice which chew bark. If packed around tree trunks too thick, mulch can smother the tree and cause it to die.

Speaking of mice, they as well as rabbits and other animals often chew bark of shrubs and trees during winter when they’re hungry and there is little food around.  You can spray repellents on stems of shrubs, and put tree guards around trunks of young trees.  Older trees are more resistant to their chewing. You can buy tree guards that easily slip around trunks at complete garden stores or online, or you can make them simply with short sections of hardware cloth wire mesh.  Just make sure they extend above the usual snow level.

If you have heavy deer pressure in your locale, make sure to spray any valuable shrubs or trees with repellents.  Taste and smell repellents can be purchased that will last for weeks before reapplication.  If there aren’t many deer, or there is alternative food, simply hanging human hair or bars of soap near shrubs may suffice.  If there are many deer or they’re hungry enough, only fencing may work. Unobtrusive black mesh can be purchased in heights from 5 to 8 feet.

Have you protected your evergreens from drying winter winds? In colder weather the roots of evergreens are frozen and unable to take up water. Winter winds may “desiccate” or dry them out, eventually causing them to die. This is why leaves turn brown–from lack of water.

Protect them by putting up a screen on the windy sides, usually the north and west. This can be as simple as erecting three wooden stakes and wrapping burlap around them.  But whatever you do, don’t cover the plants directly with plastic. It will heat up like a greenhouse on sunny days and cook your plants. Or, you can spray evergreens with an “antidessicant”, available from your local garden center. This provides a protective layer on the leaves that will wear off by spring.  Some years this may work or not, depending on specific conditions and climate that year.  Research results are mixed on whether or not antidessicants are effective.

(author’s note: Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Fall Care of Roses

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

Do you have some roses that you would like to have survive the upcoming winter, if at all possible, and particularly if new plantings?  Or, are you one of those who had roses going into last winter, only to have many die while those of your neighbor lived?  If either of these fits, you might consider mulching and mounding this fall.

A mulch will not only keep the soil warmer than unmulched soil, but also will prevent rapid fluctuations in soil temperatures which lead to soil heaving.  Snow is the best mulch but, as we know, can not always be counted on.  So other materials must be used.

A good mulch will settle lightly on the soil surface without excessive packing (this rules out most oak leaves), cause no harmful effects (such as from diseases or weed seeds), and be reasonably attractive and priced.  Mulches derived from plants also add organic matter to the soil.  Examples of good organic mulches are peat moss, weed-free straw (not hay, which is often weedy), cut evergreen branches, bark mulch, or wood chips.

Mulches should be piled at least a foot deep around plants, and not before mid-November, as roses need cool fall temperatures to develop some winter hardiness.  Mulch much later and you may have to contend with snow first, and valuable ground heat will have been lost.

Mounding also may be used to protect roses during winter, simply mounding loose soil or compost a foot or more high around the base of the plant.  Use loose sandy or loamy soil, as dense clay soil may cut off the oxygen supply to the roots, resulting in injured or dead plants. Mounding is preferable over mulches if you have mice that may live in organic material and chew on the rose stems over winter.

Climbing roses may be protected by removing the canes from their supports (keep this in mind in the spring when tying them up, for easy fall removal), then laying them on the ground.  Use a wire hoop or similar device to hold them in place.  Lay a piece of burlap over the canes to protect them during the spring uncovering operation, then mound soil or compost or organic matter over the canes.  Uncover the canes when they begin to grow in spring, checking them in early April or shortly after the snow melts.

Mulching or mounding protects roses in a couple of ways.  Roses vary greatly in their hardiness, depending on species and cultivars, with the more hardy not even needing protection.  You may find a list of some of these on our website of previous Vermont hardiness trials (pss.uvm.edu/ppp/rosedata.htm).

Most roses also are grafted onto a hardier wild rose “understock.”   Where they meet—the graft union– is the swollen area you can find at the base of many rose plants.  It is often tender and susceptible to winter injury, so needs protection.  Many recommend to even bury this graft union below the surface when planting, which also will help prevent undesirable sucker canes arising from the wild rose understock.

Before mulching or mounding roses in mid to late November, finish fall cleanup.  Remove all plant debris and diseased parts.  Pruning, although usually done in spring, may be done now to remove diseased or dead stems and to make the plant easier to mulch.  Even with protection, canes may have some dieback and need further pruning in the spring.

(author’s note: Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Daffodils for All Gardens

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

I love spring-flowering bulbs and, of these, daffodils are my favorite.  Daffodils provide welcome and cheerful color after a long winter, require almost no care, are quite hardy, and are avoided by deer and most other mammals. Fall is the time to plant them for bloom next spring.

Daffodils can be grown in almost any garden, as long as it is not too wet.  Even there, they can be grown in better-drained raised beds, or forced overwinter in pots.  While they grow and bloom best in sun, they will tolerate part shade (4 to 6 hours of direct sun daily) from deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in winter).

Daffodils require some cold in order to bloom, but there are cultivars (cultivated varieties) requiring less cold for warmer climates.  Or gardeners in such climates can “pre-cool” the bulbs prior to planting.  Of course getting sufficient cold is not an issue in the north!

To “force” overwinter in pots, either in warmer climates or just to have some early spring blooms indoors, simply pot bulbs in the fall.  Place three large bulbs in a pot six inches wide, with the bulb tips level with, or just above, the rim of the pot.  Keep moist, but not wet, in the cool (around 40 degrees), such as in an old refrigerator or unheated garage.  Keep there for about 10 to 12 weeks.  Just don’t allow bulbs to freeze.  Remove from the cold after this period, water well as growth starts, and you should see leaves, then blooms in a few weeks.

When planting outdoors in the fall, as with most other spring-blooming bulbs, daffodils need about four to six weeks of warmer soil temperatures to establish roots.  This means the ideal time to plant is late September to mid-October in the north, a bit later in milder climates. If you miss this period though, it is still best to plant bulbs in the fall rather than try to hold them until spring.

Plant with the bulb base about six inches deep below the soil surface.  Daffodils lend themselves to informal plantings, and so individual holes randomly spaced.  These may be made easily with bulb planting tools– metal tubes on a handle.  Place either bulb fertilizer, or a source of phosphorus for root growth (rock phosphate is organic, superphosphate is not) in the holes prior to planting.  Just use a small amount in each hole, perhaps a half teaspoonful, and then some soil so the bulb isn’t resting right on the fertilizer.  Avoid bone meal as it will attract skunks and other mammals which will dig up your bulbs!

Daffodils are a huge group, with about a dozen different classifications, depending on height and type of flowers.  Flowers consist of outer petals (together called the “perianth”), and usually inner ones fused into a tube (called the “corona”).  If the corona is equal to or longer than the petals, it is called a “trumpet.”  If it is shorter, it is called a “cup.”

King Alfred was for years the standard yellow trumpet type.  Others you’ll find more commonly now are Dutch Master, Golden Harvest, and Unsurpassable.  These have the typical golden yellow flowers, compared to the all white flowers of Mount Hood, or the white petals and yellow trumpet of Las Vegas and Bravoure among others.

The cup daffodils are further divided into small and large cups.  If the cups are at least one third the length of the petals, they are large cup types.  In this group are Accent (white petals, pink cup), Fortissimo (yellow petals, red-orange cup), Ice Follies (white petals, lemon yellow cup), and Carlton (yellow petals, yellow cup) for example.  Small cup types include Barrett Browning (white petals, orange cup), Flower Record (white petals, yellow cup), and Ring of Fire (white petals, red cup).

Then there are the more exotic types such as the butterfly and double daffodils.  Butterfly types are those with the corona split and perhaps ruffled in appearance. Berlin has yellow petals, orange center.  Orangerie has white petals and orange center.  Rosado has white petals, peach center.  Sunnyside Up has white petals and light yellow center.

Double daffodils have double petals, double corona, or both. Golden Ducat (a version of King Alfred) is a gold example. Replete has white petals and orange center.  Ice King has white flowers and yellow center.  Manly is yellow throughout.

Daffodil is the correct common name according to the American Daffodil Society, with the name Narcissus referring to the scientific genus name.  Jonquil correctly refers to one species of daffodil.  Although most daffodils you’ll find are hybrids such as the examples above, there are individual species like the Jonquils that you may also consider.

One  popular species is the Poet’s daffodil — an heirloom species, having a very small yellow cup with red rim, and white petals. The Triandrus species has two or more hanging flowers per stem, with petals pointed backwards (reflexed) such as the white Thalia.  The fragrant flowers of Jonquilla daffodils don’t hang and are clustered, the petals aren’t reflexed, and leaves are cylindrical.  Jonquillas include the dwarf (5 to 6 inches high) Sun Dial or Sun Disc.

If plants have only one flower per stem, with reflexed petals, this is a Cyclamineus type.  They are often dwarf, such as the popular Jetfire with its yellow petals and red-orange corona, or the popular Tete-a-Tete with its golden yellow flowers, or Jack Snipe with white petals and contrasting yellow corona.  Geranium is a popular Tazetta hybrid, with several flowers per stem, each white with red-orange cup.

If you thought daffodils were simply those yellow spring flowers, hopefully now you see the variety among the hundreds of cultivars (cultivated varieties) available.  In fall you’ll find many for sale in garden stores and even some chain stores.  Sign up for catalogs prior to spring for ordering even more variety then, through them or online.

Keep in mind when buying bulbs that they are graded according to size, and priced accordingly.  If all you want is a mix to plant randomly in the landscape, or to “naturalize”, then cheaper bulbs will suffice.  If you want a better show with more and larger flowers, especially of new hybrids, you’ll want to pay more for the larger bulbs.  Consider planting daffodils an investment which will multiply with little, if any, further care for

(author’s note: Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized