Narcissus are classic harbingers of spring. There are hundreds of cultivars of these cheery spring-blooming bulbs, with a big range of flower colors, sizes, and bloom times. One of the latest to bloom is poet’s narcissus, providing a lovely final verse to spring. This classic beauty has a large, fragrant white flower with a small, very shallow, red-rimmed golden cup in the center. The unique appearance of the cup gives poet’s narcissus its other common name, pheasnt’s eye narcissus. It has narrow, upright foliage that dies back by midsummer. Poet’s narcissus is a great choice for flower beds and for naturalizing in the landscape.
Common name: Poet’s narcissus
Botanical name: Narcissus poeticus
Plant type: Bulb
Zones: 3 to 8
Height: 12 to 18 inches
• Sun: Full sun or light dappled shade
• Soil: Well-drained loam or sandy loam
• Moisture: Even moisture; avoid overwatering when bulbs are dormant
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: Deadhead flowers when they fade.
• Fertilizer: Work in bone meal or other phosphorus fertilizer before planting bulbs; apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring.
• Dig, divide, and replant bulbs when clumps get too crowded.
Pests and diseases
• Narcissus are rarely nibbled by deer or rabbits.
• ‘Actaea’ is an heirloom cultivar noted for its especially large and fragrant flowers.
• As with most bulbs, poet’s narcissus are best appreciated when planted in large groups.
• If you have large clumps of poet’s narcissus but few flowers, it’s time to dig and divide the clumps, and then replant at wider spacing.
All in the family
• Poet’s narcissus is a member of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), a large group of bulbs and herbaceous plants.
• Other garden bulbs and houseplants in the amaryllis family include amaryllis (Hippeastrum), snowdrops (Galanthus), rain lily (Zephyranthes), and clivia.
Where to buy
• John Scheepers, 860-567-0838, www.johnscheepers.com
• White Flower Farm, 800-420-2852, www.whiteflowerfarm.com
• Old House Gardens, 734-995-1486, www.oldhousegardens.com