REPLY: [pbs] Narcissus leaf length
Sat, 25 Jan 2003 07:14:38 PST
In a message dated 24-Jan-03 8:54:13 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Cathy ~

> Anyone have suggestions for narcissus with nice neat short leaves?  I have 
> some new narcissus I bought and planted a couple months ago.  One of the 
> bulb types I bought has leaves that must be two feet long and are already 
> flopping all over the place and they haven't even bloomed. They will look 
> so bad by the time they bloom I will have to dig them all out and throw 
> them away because I won't be able to stand the mess for 8-10 weeks.
Etiolation of daffodil leaves is related to three things:  temperature, light 
and genetics.  Cool to cold temps slow growth of the leaves and preserve 
bloom for extended periods.  Often, in Oregon, in early season, it is so cold 
that for all practical purposes the flowers are growing in a refrigerator!  
This results in bloom that will last for three or four weeks, if not battered 
into compost by a hail storm.  Lack of light will also cause etiolation but 
the gray days of Winter are also accompanied by cold temps offsetting the 
lack of light.

Thus, we come to Genetics.  The tazettas and tazetta hybrids of Division 8 in 
warm Winter climates will grow during those months such that by bloom time, 
they will have developed a considerable bush of leaves.  Strong winds will 
often twist and break these leaves.  Planting in sheltered areas will largely 
take care of that problem.  Actually, I've never thought leaf growth on 
daffodils to be a "problem."  It is, simply, something one accepts as the 
price one pays for luxuriant bloom!

As for daffodils with short leaves, there a number of the species and species 
hybrids that should fit the bill.  Unfortunately, they are mostly Winter 
growers and bloomers and, while marvelous plants in a cold frame or cold 
greenhouse, tend not to be much in the Winter garden as bloom life is 
shortened by frost and pelting rain.

Dave Karnstedt
Cascade Daffodils
Silverton, Oregon
Maritime Mediterranean climate

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