About 10 years ago now, we spent a year in Scotland. My husband was doing some studying for a master's degree and we were young and a had a bit of wanderlust to see the world. We moved there in fall which is basically like our winter. For this southern girl it was a big adjustment! It was the coldest, darkest, grayest winter I remember. However in March, little green shoots began to pop up all over. Those were soon followed by small cream colored buds that burst forth into beautiful yellow cup shaped flowers. Everywhere we would go- daffodils! I don't think I've ever been more excited to see their cheery faces. Imagine green rolling hills with baby lambs frolicking everywhere and cute pops of yellow flowers swaying in the breeze- yes, it really was like a scene from a movie.
My rows of daffodils don't quite have the same affect and I often hear pigs squealing in the background but I can imagine I'm back there with just a whiff of their sweet scent. Daffodils have definitely enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past few years. They become more than just the standard yellow cup shaped bloom. Peaches, pinks, and cream varieties are becoming more widely known. We grow a few varieties of specialty types here at Fraylick Farm. My favorite is in bloom right now- Erlicheer. She is a dainty but tough little flower- a beautiful spray of cream colored flowers. She opens with a bit of yellow in her petals but within about 24 hours they turn completely cream. She has a very intoxicating scent and is the strongest of any variety we grow. Each variety is only around for about 3 weeks so you have to enjoy them quickly.
White Lion and Mt Hood come next in our succession. Mt Hood is similar in shape to the standard daffodil but completely creamy white in color. It opens with a yellow cup which changes color within 24 hours to all white/ivory.
White Lion is a single bloom type with a beautiful double ruffly center. It opens with some yellow and then turns all white. (do you notice a theme here?) I definitely prefer the creamy white varieties. We do have some peachy centered types in our later varieties that will be blooming in a few weeks.
Some people shy away from daffodils because of their sappy reputation. When cut the daffodil emits a sticky sap like substance. This sap can be bad for other flowers in the vase if the daffodil is not conditioned properly. The bulletproof method for conditioning daffodils: Give the daffodils a fresh cut, place in a vase with clean water with no other flowers. Add flower food or a CVBN tablet (often called a gerber tab), or a bleach solution (1-1 1/2 tsp /gal) for 2-5 hours. This allows the sap to drain out of the stems. At this point the stem should not be recut as the sap will begin draining again.
Now-- any designer knows, not recutting is just not practical! There is no way to know the exact length you will need it. This is why I only recommend daffodils as an event use flower. Event flowers don't have to have the extended vase life and only have to look good for 2-3 days at most. In my experience I've never seen daffodil sap take down other flowers in that amount of time. A lot of designers love using them in bouquet work. I recommend after you wrap your bouquet and make the final cut to change the water in the vase after an hour or so. This allows the daffodil stem to drain but if you change the water after awhile, you should be good to go. Also including flower food or a few drops of bleach in the water of any vase or arrangement is a good idea when working with daffodils. Remember the sap reduces vase life, it doesn't kill the flowers outright.
Daffodils scream spring and a few extra steps shouldn't be cause to avoid them. They add that touch of seasonality that is becoming a huge part of modern day design. But they won't be around for long so grab them while you can!