Narcissus bulbocodium in Northern gardens

Thu, 07 Nov 2013 20:22:57 PST
This again brings up the important consideration of variation and geography
within species (and genera). For many years I have grown a gathering of N.
bulbocodium, not sure which subspecies, that was made near Mertola in
southern Portugal. Prompted by Jane's comments I looked up climate
information on this place and it is similar to where I live-- Los Angeles,
except their dry season is much shorter. This seems to account for its
success under a rather austere regime of total summer dryness in 6" pots.
The soil never becomes *absolutely* dry but it does not get watered and is
powdery by summer's end. Unfortunately I don't have notes on its local
ecology but I think the subspecies that grow in wetter places, or at higher
altitudes, would have perished here long ago.

Dylan Hannon

On 7 November 2013 10:45, Jane McGary <> wrote:

> An important thing to know about Narcissus bulbocodium is that it has
> a number of different populations, some of which are distinguished as
> subspecies or varieties. According to John Blanchard's useful book
> "Narcissus: A Guide to Wild Daffodils," these different populations
> grow in distinctly different habitats. The type, for instance
> "grow[s] in short turf, often very wet, at lower levels, but high on
> the Serra da Estrela they are in very gritty acid, almost grassless
> soil." Var. nivalis is a plant of alpine meadows where it would
> experience frost and snowmelt. Var. conspicuus of western Europe
> "prefer[s] a damp acid soil." Var. pallidus is from the Atlas
> Mountains and (I find) tolerates more summer drying. Var. graellsii
> from Spain "always seems to grow on level turf on acid soil, often
> dryish but sometimes quite wet." N. obesus, or subsp. obesus, is said
> to be more lime-tolerant, but I have found it one of the best for
> growing outside in the Pacific Northwest; mine are a clone originally
> sent to the PNW from England in the 1960s.
> I don't know what 'Golden Bells' may be, but I suppose it's from the
> western European types like var. conspicuus. It is more likely than
> the others to produce more than one flower per stem, and it has erect
> foliage. It persisted in a warm, dry but irrigated spot in my former
> garden for many years. I did not put it with the bulb collection
> because I was afraid of introducing virus into my seed-grown narcissi.
> It is interesting to grow a wide range of these subspecies,
> varieties, or populations because you get a long period of bloom:
> nivalis and praecox come first, then pallidus, and later obesus and
> finally graellsii. Narcissus are very easy to grow from seed and
> these little ones can flower the third year. Most of mine came from
> the Archibalds' seed lists and many of those were collections by Blanchard.
> I think most of them can stand plenty of water during their growing
> season as long as the soil is well drained.
> Jane McGary
> Portland, Oregon, USA
> At 06:00 PM 11/6/2013, you wrote:
> >Peter is correct in his assessment of Narcissus bulbocodium culture.   I
> >raise N. bulbocodium  outside in pots, AND in the ground, but out of
> direct
> >heavy rain, which, for Seattle gardeners, is the key to may Mediterranean
> >plants and bulbs.  These bulbs are being raised in USDA zone 8b, so
> >considerably milder than zone 5-6.   The soil is quite well drained.  It
> >just may not be the best species for your climate unless you have a cool
> >greenhouse
> >Rick K
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