March 25, 2012

Rare or Rarely Seen Narcissus

Narcissus moscatus is one of the loveliest but increasingly scarce, Narcissus species. Closely related to N. alpestris,  this bulb takes  a few years to get established, but once it does, it divides nicely. Nodding, milk white trumpets hang their heads downward.

Rarely seen in this country are collections of potted rare bulbs, especially miniature narcissus which require either an alpine house ( a cold greenhouse which never freezes or cold frames, where pots of bulbs can remain quiet and unfrozen until ready to grow and bloom).  In the UK, there are some enthusiasts who continue to collect and exhibit potted bulb collections, but in the US, they are difficult to keep well, as our summers are too hot, and our winters too cold.  I am fascinated by such collections those of rare bulbs in pots from another time, so I try to keep a few around, either potted in the coldest corners of my greenhouse, or, under benches where the frost nearly reaches them. A few too, I keep in the raise alpine beds which surround the foundation of the greenhouse, were the bulbs are kept unfrozen, and provide some color and delight in early spring.
A gorgeous species for the garden, closely related to the fabledalpestris and considered by some to be the same plant (not us!).
Lovely milk white trumpets hang their heads towards the ground in March-April. One of the loveliest but increasingly scarce now.


NARCISSUS TRIANDRUS ssp. TRIANDRUS

 The crosses from Narcissus triandrus ssp. triandus  are always choice, and the finest have always been rather tender, needing dry summers and protection from deep frosts, so bulb collectors often keep them in pots. This pot has grown from three bulbs planted ten years ago ( it's double potted for two reasons - so that I will remember that this is an important bulb when it goes dormant, and two - because I feel that the extra gravel keeps the temperature and moisture more consistent. This species like fast drainage, and a bone-dry summer, so the pot may come out in March to bloom, but they go back into the greenhouse for the summer, where the pots can bake in the hot sun.

NARCISSUS 'LITTLE GEM' IS NOT RARE, BUT AS YOU CAN SEE, IT FOOLS THE EYE. IT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE A LARGE DAFFODIL, BUT ABOUT 20 TIMES SMALLER! NARCISSUS ARE THE BEST VALUE FOR GARDENERS, BECAUSE THEY ARE AMONGST THE MOST LONG-LIVED OF BULBS.

NARCISSUS IN POTS CAN HANDLE THE COLD WEATHER WITH NARY A NOD, IT'S THE HEAT THAT THEY CANNOT STAND. WITH TEMPS FALLING INTO THE HIGH TWENTIES TOMORROW NIGHT, THESE BULBS WILL REMAIN OUTSIDE.

THE HOOP NARCISSUS, OR BULBOCODIUM TYPES PERFORM BETTER IN POTS FOR ME, THAN IN THE GARDEN. I ALWAYS KEEP POTS FULL WHICH BLOOM MOST OF THE WINTER IN THE COLD GREENHOUSE. THIS YELLOW SPECIES IS THE LAST ONE OF THE YEAR, OFTEN BLOOMING IN MARCH OR APRIL.

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