Smaller Narcissus -Part 2 PBS and Alpine Topic of the Week

James Waddick
Tue, 10 Feb 2004 09:38:03 PST
Dear Friends
         As promised here is part 2 of the Topic of the Week on Smaller 
Narcissus, a different view of a fascinating subject.

Smaller Narcissus       PART TWO

Nancy Wilson -  Miniature and species narcissus especially historical ones 
have fascinated Nancy Wilson for decades. Her Northern California nursery 
is the tip of the iceberg. She has kindly put down a few basics to tempt 
readers and stimulate discussions on these Smaller Narcissus. To learn more 
about her and her nursery look for .

Smaller Narcissus by Nancy Wilson

         I have grown Narcissus since I was a child, some 65 plus years 
ago. I always had a rock garden near by and the small varieties drew my 
attention. My first home after marriage was is Berkeley, California. The 
garden consisted of a steep rock bank with species Narcissus in the 
pockets. I divided them and they increased easily. I learned that many of 
these delightful species were native to Spain, Portugal, North Africa, 
Morocco, Algeria and France. We have visited Spain and France and have seen 
that endemic populations are rapidly being destroyed to make way for 
monoculture and freeways. Goats and cattle forage on their leaves and boys 
play soccer in the fields. I have devoted some of my gardening time to 
preserving these bulbs  and spreading their delight to others who might 
carry on their preservation.

N. bulbocodium and N. cantabricus species grow from sea level to over 3000 
meters. Many grow in alpine conditions and generally like acid soil and a 
rocky terrain. Pockets in the rock garden are ideal for many species.

When growing rare bulbs it is worth your while to research their native 
habitats and see if they will be compatible with yours. I live in Northern 
California where the winters occasionally get to 15 degrees F. and the 
summers are dry with mid day temperatures up to 100 F.. The nights always 
cool off. I grow N. bulbocodium, N. cantabricus and N. jonquilla forms 
well. They like my acid, clay soil and summer baking. I can neglect them in 
the summer and do not have to water. From November to March we get a lot of 
rain and they love it. In December and January N. bulbocodium albidus 
zaianicus blooms with rich yellow flowers. N. cantabricus var. foliosus has 
white flowers. They both like to grow in clumps and do not need to be 
disturbed for years. They will self seed. A little later in the spring N. 
bulbocodium var. conspicuus blooms with lemon yellow flowers and green 
striped perianths. N. cyclamineus likes a few hours of morning sun and a 
rocky wall that receives water all year. N. rupicola and N. rupicola ssp. 
watieri grow in the mountains above 1500 meters where there is snow cover 
in the winter and dry, well drained soils in the summer. They do well in my 
screen house where the pots freeze for a few days in winter. If your 
climate is colder you can plant the bulbs deeper than the usual three 
inches and mulch them well.

The N. jonquilla species like winter rains and  will tolerate wet feet but 
they like to dry off in the summer and bake. N. fernandesii and N. 
willkommii do well in the open. I have a clone of N. willkommii that came 
from Michael Jefferson Brown many years ago. It seems sterile but tolerates 
summer watering near a lawn or in the open rock garden and glows with 
multiple headed, deep yellow flowers in early spring.

Most tazettas are too large for the rock garden. N. tazetta panizzianus and 
N. tazetta canariensis are the exception. N. 'odoratus' and the Dutch form 
of  N. canaliculatus are under a foot tall and very floriferous.

I would suggest many of the hybrid daffodils. The newer, rarer ones are 
well worth obtaining. Bill Dijk from New Zealand has introduced 'Little 
Becky', 'Little Emma', 'Little Flik' and 'Dainty Monique'. Rod Barwick, 
from Tasmania, has bred bulbocodium hybrids 'Smarple', 'Spoirot', and 
'Kholmes'. 'Angel's Breath' and 'Angel's Whisper' are wonderful triandrus 
hybrids from his collection. 'Mickey', 'Minnie', and 'Mortie' are his very 
small cyclamineus hybrids. If you order bulbs from down under they will 
arrive in February.  Refrigerate them for a week and then plant them 
immediately to acclimatize them. Roberta Watrous' 'Little Rusky' is a 
jonquil hybrid with several green eyed, orange rimmed flowers to a stem. 
'Toto' and 'Oz', bred by Bill Pannill in the US, are larger but very 
floriferous and wonderful rock garden plants. A new introduction from Elise 
Havens, 'Bumble Bee', is charming. Then there are the tried and true 
favorites which are inexpensive and colorful, 'Little Gem', 'Little 
Beauty', 'Baby Moon', 'Golden Quince', 'Hawera', 'Midget', and 'Sundial'. 
These have been propagated by the Dutch and are readily available.

The best way to build up a collection is to buy several of the same variety 
and plant them in clumps. Buy a few kinds  each year and slowly build up 
your stock.  They  can be divided every three years for increase. In mild 
climates you can grow fall and winter flowering forms. Sometime in the near 
future we will have green flowers and pink bi-colors. Enjoy these wonderful 

Sources: The American Daffodil Society web page has a good list of 
suppliers listed under "Specialty Bulb Growers".

For specific bulbs contact Nancy R. Wilson, 6525 Briceland Thorn Road, 
Garberville, CA 95542,

Reading: Narcissus, a Guide to Wild Daffodils, John W. Blanchard, Alpine 
Garden Society.

Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
E-fax  419-781-8594

Zone 5 Record low -23F
         Summer 100F +


Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
E-fax  419-781-8594

Zone 5 Record low -23F
         Summer 100F +

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