Fall has special meaning for gardeners. When I look out my back window, I see the fluffy blooms of the native grass prairie dropseed sparkling in the autumn light, set off by a blazing red backdrop of chokeberry leaves. The dogwood leaves are on fire, the spicebush leaves a brilliant yellow, and purple asters add their own color splashes. Goldfinches perch to nibble on seedheads. Autumn jewels, rich and quiet, speak soul deep.
And yet, the youthful fresh energy of spring lies just beneath the surface. Fall, this time of winding down, of approaching dormancy, is also the time to set the stage for a fantastic rebirth.
Yes, I’m talking about bulbs. Specifically, daffodils, and still more specifically, naturalizing daffodils, the most reliable and rewarding of spring bulbs. All daffodils come back year after year but naturalizing narcissi produce new bulbs underground, and thus they become more dense and produce more blooms over time.
You can increase your bloom time by mixing at least three varieties, choosing an early, a mid-season and a late-bloomer. This can give you two months of non-stop daffodil joy.
It is hard to find a list of naturalizing narcissi and even less likely that you will find them divided into bloom season categories. Van Engelen, a wholesale bulb company, compiled such a list. I cannot find it on their website, so I will quote it here. Get out your scissors. The list at the bottom of this article is a keeper.
To find many of these varieties, it is likely that you will need to order them. It is best to plant your bulbs when they arrive, as long as the weather has cooled sufficiently. If you are unable to plant right away, be sure to open all the boxes and bags to ensure good air circulation. Store them in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight.