RHS Garden Trials finds the best flowering daffodils to plant now and how to grow them
The RHS has just announced the results of its garden trials of shorter daffodils, with the top 12 trees receiving the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Here are five of the best.
Narcissus “curly head”
This double dwarf daffodil grows to 15 cm tall, and blooms in early to mid spring. The flowers are a mass of petals in two shades of yellow.
Trials Forum Comments: Great. Fully double flowers of good texture. Very impressive, straight and tidy. Masses of flowers both trial years. Also makes a good pot for plants.
Plant Combinations: This small double daffodil will look good in pots on its own or is perfect for mixing with violas, which also have a low habit. In bounds it can follow snowdrops, and it is best to be in the foreground where its beautiful habit can be seen. Like all small bulbs, it fits well with Mediterranean plantings such as lavender and thyme, as well as small hops.
Narcissus “The Feeling of Moonlight”
This clumping daffodil grows to a height of 30cm, with slightly belt-shaped grey-green leaves. The flowers are fragrant, about 7cm across, and open to bright yellow and fade to creamy white, with up to six flowers on each stem.
Trial Forum Comments: Looks great and healthy with masses of flowers. Multi-stemmed bulbs. Good garden plants and a good pot subject. Strongly scented.
Plant Groups: ‘Thalia’ bulb (multi-headed daffodil), fits into larger containers, and is best alone as the foliage will overpower other plants. The mass looks beautiful in a bowl in a visible place. They don’t usually landscape well, so this works best in borders where they have a niche that can be associated with roses and herbaceous perennials. Place it back where its leaves can die safely.
Narcissus “Winter Waltz”
Yellow clumping daffodil, about 30 cm tall, with green, belt-shaped leaves. The flowers are lightly scented and pointed upwards, with white petals slightly tipped back and a long apricot-orange cup that turns paler over time, appearing from February to March. Ideal for the front of borders or in pots and containers.
Experience Forum Comments: It has an impact and stands out. The flowers hanging above the foliage, and the unusual apricot trumpets, fade with time. Lightly scented. Useful for the front or in pots.
Plant Groups: ‘Cyclaminus’ daffodils with reflex petals are graceful and early bloomers, so they are very welcome. The pale yellow color of this bulb will associate very well with the seasoned ‘February Gold’. It is a bulb for cultivated beds and borders where it can die back behind a screen of perennials, and is best edged forward, as it has a fruity scent. It is a little tall for containers in a windy garden but will do well in shelter, ideally with a pot to itself.
Narcissus “More and More”
A compact, bulbous perennial that grows to about 20cm tall and produces two or more bright yellow, upward-facing scented flowers on each stem in mid-spring.
Trials Forum Comments: Awesome! Late flower, blooms well. In proportion. Helps extend the season. Very sweet smell. Prefers alkaline soil.
Planting Kits: This gorgeous miniature daffodil is very suitable for planting in small pots in courtyards or can be brought out for decoration while in bloom. They suit rockeries and raised beds planted with other small gems, such as saxifrage and grape lilies, for example. Although it is too delicate for large borders, it is suitable for mixing with low-growing shrubs such as lavender, hops and santolina.
Narcissus ‘Yellow Sailboat’
A clumping, late-flowering bulbous perennial reaching a height of about 30cm, with belt-like green leaves and reflexed bright yellow aromatic flowers that appear in late April.
Trials Forum Comment: Great show. Sorbet, soft lemon-yellow flowers, one to three heads per stem and some bulbs with eight stems. Beautifully scented.
Planting Groups: This is a good choice for borders, as they can be appreciated up close for their scent and delicacy. Plus, it’s on the late side, which extends daffodil season. Mix it with a similar narcissi, such as the white-flowered ‘Sailboat’ or other daffodils. For containers, plant alone and use a taller container to better appreciate its scent.
Other AGM-winning shorter daffodils from the trial include ‘Angel’s Whisper’, ‘Crofty’, ‘Englander’, ‘Snipe’, ‘Chappie’, ‘Medway Gold’ and ‘Tiny Bubbles’.
How to grow them
The RHS advises:
1. Ideally, plant between mid-September and November. This allows the bulbs to put out their roots before winter temperatures drop.
2. Plant them twice as deep as the bulb, or three times as much if you have sandy soil. Some types of bulbs are very small and can be planted deeper.
3. If growing in containers, bulbs can be packed tightly together in the middle of the container.
4. After planting, water it well.
5. After flowering, leave the leaves for six weeks.
6. Remember that they need nothing more than garden soil (unless in pots when using peat-free compost), good drainage, and plenty of rain when growing and flowering.