A Beginner’s Guide To 13 Types of Daffodils

At the end of August, daffodils are rarely top-of-mind. But this is precisely the time when you should be ordering them. And this is especially true for the more sought-after, unusual varieties. Why stick with yellow trumpets when daffodils come in so many other colors, shapes and sizes? See below if one or more of these different types of daffodils wouldn’t be the perfect fit for your 2021 spring garden. 

THE 13 MAIN TYPES OF DAFFODILS

The choices are seemingly endless. Depending on who you talk to, there are currently between 40 and 200 different daffodil species and over 32,000 registered cultivars. To keep them all organized, horticulturalists split them into 13 divisions. These thirteen divisions are known as the Official Classification System. It categorizes daffodils based on the size and shape of their cups as compared to their petals.

Here’s a rundown of the divisions and links to some of the standout varieties in each one. 

DIVISION 1: TRUMPET

Characterized by large blooms and only one flower to a stem, these cultivars have trumpets that are as long or longer than their petals. Some of the earliest to bloom, trumpet daffodils come in a wide variety of shapes and colors including Mount Hood, King Alfred and 4U2.

Trumpet daffodil ‘King Alfred’

DIVISION 2: LARGE-CUPPED

These cultivars have cups that are more than one third, but less than equal to the length of their petals. Each stem bears a single flower. Large-cupped daffodils come in a wide range of colors and have flat, ruffled or trumpet-like shapes. Great varieties include: Salome, Ice Follies and the exquisite, soft yellow Day Dream.

Large-cupped daffodil ‘Salome’

DIVISION 3: SMALL-CUPPED 

These daffodils have cups that are not more than one third the length of their petals. Each stem carries one medium-sized flower. Popular selections include the exquisitely-shaped Eleanor Auchincloss, Ringtone and Barrett Browning.

Small-cupped daffodil ‘Barrett Browning’

DIVISION 4: DOUBLES

Not everyone’s a fan of these unusually-shaped flowers with their frilly rows of petals that resemble carnations. Nevertheless, these types of daffodils have a sweet fragrance and look great under flowering shrubs and trees. Each produces one or more blooms to a stem. Try pink and white Replete, tropical-colored Tahiti or soft pink Angélique.

Double daffodil ‘Tahiti’

DIVISION 5: TRIANDRUS 

Tiny and low-growing, these daffodils have petals that flare back and droop downwards like columbines. Triandrus daffodils prefer wetter conditions and produce two or more pendent flowers to a stem. Great varieties include the dainty white Thalia, soft yellow ‘Angel’s Breath‘ and bright yellow Hawera.

Triandrus daffodil ‘Thalia’

DIVISION 6: CYCLAMINEUS 

Cyclamineus daffodils have smaller-sized trumpets and petals that flare back from the cup. Prized for their early flowering and diminutive size, they’re perfect for naturalizing in large masses. Great varieties include: Wisley, Peeping Tom and February Gold.

Cylcamineus daffodil ‘February Gold’

DIVISION 7: JONQUILS 

Instead of the flat leaves found in most daffodils, jonquils have dark green, tube-shaped leaves that resemble rushes. Strongly fragrant, they feature three or more small blooms to a stem. Although they are traditionally yellow, jonquils are also now available in white/yellow combinations. Great for naturalizing. Try Pueblo or Bell Song.

Yellow jonquil daffodils

DIVISION 8: TAZETTAS 

Producing fragrant clusters of up to 20 flowers to a stem, tazetta daffodils are prized for their strong scent and heavy flower bearing. Great varieties include Geranium, Grand Primo and one of my personal favorites, Minnow.

Tazetta daffodil ‘Minnow’

DIVISION 9: POETICUS  

It doesn’t get cuter than this! Also known as Pheasant’s Eye, Poet’s daffodils have very shallow, red-rimmed cups that look like an eye, especially when silhouetted against their bright white petals. Each has just one flower to a stem. Poeticus are one of the latest types of daffodils to flower. Great varieties include: Actaea and Recurvus.

White Poet’s daffodil

DIVISION 10: BULBOCODIUM 

Also known as Petticoat daffodils for their lampshade-shaped cups, bulbocodiums grow to just 4 to 6 inches. The smallest of all the narcissus, the species is unusual in that its trumpet is exceptionally large in relation to its petals. Check out Yellow Hoop and Spoirot.

Yellow ‘Petticoat’ daffodils

DIVISION 11: SPLIT-CUPPED 

Also called Butterfly daffodil, split-cupped daffodils have cups that splay out, which makes them appear as if they have another ring of petals. 

Look for Apricot Whirl, Lemon Beauty and tiny coral-pink Shrike.

Split-cupped daffodil

DIVISION 12: MISCELLANEOUS OR OTHER TYPES OF DAFFODILS

This division Includes all those daffodils that don’t fall into the above classifications. Many are variants or hybrids of natural species.

Mesa Verde daffodil at the RHS SHow

Mesa Verde, a new cultivar developed in California by Bob Spott/Photo: RHS Flower Show

Division 13: SPECIES DISTINGUISHED BY BOTANICAL NAMES 

Often left off the list, according to The Daffodil Society this division is nonetheless a part of the official daffodil classification system. It includes all the wild daffodils.

THE BEST WAY TO PLANT ALL TYPES OF DAFFODILS

On the East Coast, we plant our spring bulbs in November, once nighttime temperatures have fallen to around 45 to 50 degrees F. So hold on to your new purchases until at least late October. This is approximately six weeks before the first hard frost. 

Plant your bulbs with the pointy end up and the flat end down. And make sure the hole is twice as deep as the size of the bulb. Back fill with soil and water well. 

Once planted, all daffodil varieties are maintenance free and will naturalize year after year. Deer won’t touch them (due to some toxic properties.) Just make sure to respect your bulb’s requirements. They’ll flower best in full sun, but will tolerate part shade. And in my experience, they do fine in deciduous woodlands.

While there are many theories on when to remove the leaves, I ascribe to the one that advocates leaving the leaves on for about 6 weeks after blooms until they yellow. This allows the plant to absorb energy from sunlight which it redirects back down into the bulb to feed next year’s flowers.

Bulbs coming up too early? Check out my post, What To Do If Your Spring Bulbs Come Up Too Early.

 

Top Annuals for the All-Season Cutting Garden

Annuals for the cutting garden/Photo: Julie Hove Anderson Photography

As a landscape designer, I’m well versed in perennials and the kind of annuals you buy from a nursery. But when it comes to growing annuals from seeds, my experience centers mainly on zinnias. So recently, I was delighted to attend a webinar given by ButterBee Farm owner Laura Beth Resnick on the top annuals she grows for her cutting gardens.

Located in Pikesville, Maryland, ButterBee Farm specializes in growing flowers organically for florists, weddings, and flower lovers across the Maryland and DC areas. Established in 2013, the farm has since grown to encompass just around 5 acres. In addition to signature perennials such as peonies and ranunculus, Resnick grows ornamental foliage and thousands of annuals, both in the field and in heated and unheated greenhouses.

The goal, says Resnick, is to provide her customers with flowers and foliage all year-round.

One of ButterBee Farm’s cutting gardens/Photo: Julie Hove Anderson Photography

SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

There’s so much to learn from Resnick and her wealth of plant knowledge. But today’s focus was on annuals for cutting. And annuals often have quite different needs from those of perennials. For example, while there are perennials that are built for sun and others for shade, annuals need at least 8 hours of sun a day. If your site is shady, it’s not the best location for a cutting garden.

Annuals like zinnias grow best in full sun/Photo: Here By Design

According to Resnick, if you want to successfully grow annuals for cutting, you need three things:

And lots of sun can mean high water needs. Cutting gardens need constant monitoring to make sure thirsty plants are getting enough moisture. Unlike perennials, annuals are shallow-rooted, meaning their roots are located close to the soil surface. They dry out fast once the surface water has evaporated.

Annuals are shallow-rooted

But even with lots of sun and diligent watering, your cutting garden can sometimes under-perform if you don’t know what kind of soil you’re dealing with. Resnick stresses the importance of getting a soil test before planting.

“It’s kind of like getting your blood work done,” she said.

Soil pH, for example, can have a huge effect on plants. And it can determine what kinds of minerals are available.

Good soil is essential to the life of a garden/Photo: shutterstock.com

Luckily, getting a soil test is easier than ever – just dig up some samples, put them in a plastic bag and ship them off to a soil analysis center. You can find them through university extension offices, Agro Lab, or my personal favorite, University of Delaware. They email you the results complete with recommendations for how to improve your soil for what you want to grow. 

A GREAT CUTTING GARDEN TAKES PLANNING

Unlike perennials, which come up on schedule year after year, if you’re growing annuals from seeds, it takes some planning. And if you’re growing annuals for a cutting garden, it’s best to start backward. That means, start by determining when you want to have things blooming and then work backward to when you have to plant.

Days to Flower is a key term to remember when purchasing a seed packet. It refers to the amount of days it takes from when the seed germinates until the day it’s ready to be harvested. Some packets won’t tell you, so you may have to do a google search. Johnny’s Selected Seeds, though, does. And Resnick says it’s a good quick stop.

Below is an example of a chart Resnick uses to determine when to plant June annuals for her cutting garden. 

KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR

Finally, even the most seasoned of gardeners have failures. No two seasons are alike. Taking notes on what happens each year is really helpful. Resnick stresses creating a planting calendar and referring back to it when making your selections.

Most importantly, when choosing annuals for cutting, strive for diversity. Not everything you try is going to work out. Plant a bunch of different things that bloom in spring, summer and fall. It’s a good way to hedge your bets.

Laura Beth Resnick, Owner ButterBee Farm/Photo: Julie Hove Anderson Photography

TOP ANNUALS FOR CUTTING

Below are Resnick’s top annuals for the cutting garden, organized by season.

SPRING ANNUALS

Bachelor’s Button, a cool-season annual/Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Larkspur– Resnick direct seeds annual larkspur (which is different from the perennial) in the fall between Sept 15 and October 15. Favorite varieties are Early Grey and the QIS series.

Snapdragon– She loves Chantilly and Madame Butterfly, which she plants in the fall and Rocket and Potomac, which she plants in the spring. She pinches her plants to encourage branching.

Bachelor’s Button (Blue Cornflower)- She direct seeds in the fall. Try Black or Blue Magic. These flowers love to re-seed.

Feverfew– If you plant in the fall, feverfew will bloom earlier in the spring. If you plant in the spring, it will bloom later. Resnick likes the single-flowered Virgo variety. 

Scabiosa– She plants in the fall and spring. Her favorite varieties include Ping Pong, Black Knight, and the creamy apricot Fata Morgana.

SUMMER ANNUALS

Deep red sunflower variety ‘Moulin Rouge’/Photo: shutterstock.com

Sunflowers–  Resnick plants sunflower seeds every week in summer. ‘You can plant them every week and you’ll have them every week,’ she said. She plants the seeds close together for smaller flower heads, which look better in vases. Favorite varieties include Moulin Rouge (above) and the Procut Series.

Zinnias– She plants every 3 weeks for continuous bloom through fall. Aztec, Persian Carpet (also called Mexican zinnia), Queen Red or Queen Orange are her favorites.

Strawflower- ‘This is what is called ‘everlasting,’ said Resnick. ‘When it blooms, it’s already dried.’ She plants in the spring. Good varieties include Apricot, Purple-red and Silvery Rose

Cosmos- She plants seeds every 3 weeks in summer and pinches plant tips to promote branching. Resnick prefers the Double Click series over the single flower. It is a little more resilient in the heat. 

Celosia– Resnick recommends planting every 2 weeks, from summer to fall. She recommends the Sunday and Chief series. If your budget allows, the Bombay series has the most unusual colors. 

FALL ANNUALS

Pink gomphrena/Photo: shutterstock.com

Hairy Balls– These are excellent focal flowers, albeit a little strange. They are part of the milkweed family, whose flowers are the only flowers monarch butterflies will eat. Plant seeds in spring or early summer but be mindful of the sap. If you get it in your eyes, it can send you to the hospital.

Marigolds (Tagetes)- Make sure to purchase the cutting variety, not the bedding one, which is short. Resnick plants seeds from summer to fall. She likes the Jedi series, Tagetes erecta, known to be the most disease tolerant and tallest of the cutflower series.

Gomphrena– She plants from summer to fall. Check out the QIS series and Audray series.

Ornamental Kale- She plants from late summer to fall. There are so many different, amazing varieties featuring unusual colors and foliage. Resnick likes the tall variety, Crane, and its feather-leafed version ‘Feather’. Plant in late summer to fall.

Dahlias– Okay, these aren’t seeds, but they are stalwarts of the late summer garden. Plant in early summer. In Maryland, we plant our tubers in June. Resnick loves Cornel Bronze, Nathalie g, Cafe au Lait, and Jowie Linda. Plant 15” apart.

Ready to plant? I am. It’s late July in Maryland, but it’s clear from Resnick’s chart that there is still plenty of time to sow annual seeds. Make sure to check your Plant Hardiness Zone, though. Resnick’s charts are built for her area of Maryland, which is zone 7a – 7b. All links are for informational purposes only, and are not paid links. 

Looking for more great ideas? Check out ButterBee Farm’s instagram at @butterbee_farm. 

 

Identify Plants In A Snap With These 6 Top Apps

 What's That Flower app

Now that we’re all spending more time at home, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s blooming. And finding the answer is easier than ever with one of the dozens of plant identification apps available. But which ones work best and provide the fastest, most reliable material? I decided to do a comparison. Continue reading

When To Cut Back Daffodil Foliage

I know you don’t want to, but you must. You must wait to cut back your daffodil foliage until it yellows. Removing leaves prematurely may neaten things up, but come spring you’ll have far fewer flowers. And everyone knows daffodils look best in big numbers. Continue reading

In Praise of Redbud

redbud tree and green bench

I always smile when the redbuds begin blossoming in my area. Flowering with reckless abandon, the magenta-colored trees instantly distinguish themselves from other plants in the landscape. One of my friends shouts out REDBUD! when her own dazzling specimen bursts into bloom. That seems to me the perfect way to describe the electric flowering of this upbeat, ornamental tree. Continue reading

Daffodil Bulb Care: The Top 5 Things You Need To Know

Recently my email box has been overflowing with questions from readers worried about the unusually warm winter we’ve been experiencing. Many of the questions center on daffodils, in particular, what to do with unruly bulbs. In replying, I first spoke with a few of my local nursery experts to gain their opinion. Following are five of my readers’ top concerns about daffodil bulbs and what to do about them. Continue reading

How To Pronounce Botanical Names (Hint: It Doesn’t Matter)

Just the other day, I was working with a bunch of Master Gardeners preparing a garden for the county fair when one of them noticed a bare space. Sure enough, in one of the central beds, a group of plants had recently given up the ghost on a prominent corner. In no time, we all agreed that a lacy evergreen would be the perfect replacement. And that’s when I suggested chamaecyparis. Continue reading

Why Carnations Are The Official Mother’s Day Flower

For those of you who think Mother’s Day was created by Hallmark, the real story is much more poignant. It all sprang from a daughter’s love for her mother, the trials of war and a gift of 500 white carnations. Continue reading

Why Star Magnolia Deserves A Spot In Your Garden

First introduced from Japan in the 1860s, the star magnolia has become a staple of many American gardens. And for what it may lack in size, it sure makes up for in personality. Considered one of the smallest magnolias, it nevertheless produces a big tree’s worth of flowers. Tinted pink or white, the blossoms hang like fallen stars from the shrub’s smooth, bare branches in early spring. Continue reading

The Best Hellebore Varieties For Your Winter/Spring Garden

February can be a bleak time on the East Coast. Days are short and the sky hangs low on the horizon. But there’s a small-sized perennial whose early, colorful blooms never fail to lift my mood. It’s the lovely, cup-shaped flower called hellebore, commonly known as the Lenten Rose. Continue reading