Jonquils, Daffodils, Narcissus?

Whatever you call them, plant them now for spring blooms

Jonquils, daffodils, narcissus: Which is what?
    Narcissus and daffodils are one and the same, according to the Encyclopedia of Horticulture, the bible of the horticultural industry. Jonquils, however, are a sub-species of narcissus.
    Over the years, I have seen people argue over the identification of this species when all the evidence they had to go on was tradition passed on by parents or friends. As for myself, I cannot tell the difference between a narcissus and a jonquil without knowing the species and subspecies name. There has been so much hybridizing of these species and subspecies that distinguishing by flower structure alone is impossible except to those who work with them regularly.
    Narcissus are generally sold in small clusters of two to four bulbs attached at the base. Beginning gardeners often divide the bulbs prior to planting. The more one divides these bulbs, the smaller the flowers will be the following spring. Unlike tulips, narcissus bulbs perform best when planted in small clusters.

          Brussels Sprouts          
     Ready for Thanksgiving     

  A Bay Weekly reader called me to lament that her Brussels sprouts were not producing. She was ready to pull them out of the garden. I informed her that my Brussels sprouts were just beginning to grow small sprouts. I assured her that she would be eating Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. Matter of fact, if you leave the plants in the ground all winter, they will grow a few more sprouts before spring.

    Like tulip bulbs in our climate zone, narcissus bulbs give the biggest flowers when planted at least eight inches deep in well-drained soil with an abundance of compost in the bottom.
    The difference between narcissus bulbs and tulip bulbs is longevity in the garden. In our climate, narcissus bulbs will persist for years. If you did a good job of planting them in fertile soil with an abundance of compost, you will most likely be digging and dividing the clumps every five or six years.
    To avoid having to store narcissus bulbs during the summer months, I stick a plant label in the middle of the clump in the spring, soon after the foliage begins to die to the ground. This marks the spot where the bulbs are located so that in early fall, I dig them up, separate them and replant them with additional compost in the bottom of the pit. To postpone having to dig up and thin the plantings, I space the bulbs three to four inches apart. The extra space allows them to naturally divide.


Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.