For the past 20 years, I’ve been adding a few new daffodils to my home landscape every fall. Now, more than 60 varieties bloom in my borders and under trees and shrubs from late March to early June. It’s a show that my neighbors and I look forward to as the snow melts and the days finally get longer and warmer.
Of all the varieties that I’ve collected over the years, I find myself increasingly fond of the miniature daffodils. Smaller versions of full-sized daffodils, these little gems grow only 6 to 8 inches tall and have equally diminutive flowers. Their petite size makes them perfect for tucking into the lawn and rock gardens, planting under shrubs, and mixing with crocus, Scilla, grape hyacinth and other small-stature spring flowers. Unlike their larger brethren, miniature daffodils fade more gracefully after blooming because their foliage is short and narrow and looks less messy and obtrusive as it ripens.
Although mini daffodils are hard to find in stores, specialty catalogs offer plenty of choices. The American Daffodil Society maintains an approved list of 183 miniature cultivars that grow less than 6 inches tall. They recognize 13 different divisions of narcissus based on flower form and the number of flowers per stem. Categories include daffodils with small cups, large cups, trumpet-shaped cups, double flowers, Narcissus species, and others. Every division includes miniatures as well as full-size cultivars.
My garden already included several swaths of yellow Tête-à-Tête and yellow and orange Jetfire, which are the most commonly available cultivars. These early bloomers are the perfect complement to blue crocus and dwarf Iris reticulata. They make wonderful little bouquets, too, and are easy to force indoors for midwinter color.
Encouraged and excited by the success of my first mini daffodils, I added half a dozen new cultivars to my garden a couple of years ago. Segovia is a sweet little flower with pure white petals and a small flat yellow cup. Xit is an all-white, show-winner with a name I can’t pronounce. (Please add a Comment, below, if you know how to say it!) Chiva is a very fragrant jonquil with buttercup yellow blooms. Heirloom Pencrebar hails from the 1930s and has rich, yellow, double flowers. Sun Disc ends the daffodil season with round, fragrant, white-and-yellow blooms.
I’m looking forward to adding even more miniature daffodils in the coming seasons. My favorite source for bulbs is Dutch Gardens, (which is a sister company to Gardener’s Supply). Dutch Gardens sells fall-planted bulbs (including miniature daffodils) through the end of October.