GROWING MINIATURE DAFFODILS
GROWING MINIATURE DAFFODILS OUTSIDE
Although miniature daffodils look delicate – that’s why we love them – many can be grown successfully outside. Let’s look at what we mean by ‘miniature daffodil’.
Officially, for showing purposes, a miniature daffodil just needs to have a flower no wider than 50mm (2 inches) across, with no limit on how tall they grow. Most of the Dryad miniatures are much smaller, both in stature and flower size. You can see an example below of our ‘Little Finn’ compared to ‘Mitzy’ which is classed as a miniature. To distinguish between the different types, we will refer to ours as ‘true miniatures’.
Ordinary miniatures can usually be planted out in borders the same as standard (larger) varieties. Because of their neater growth, front of border positions are best, or on raised beds, where they can be more easily admired.
True miniatures may take a bit more thought to find a place where they can be displayed to their best advantage, and also to protect them from predation by slugs and snails. Probably the easiest solution is to plant on rock gardens, in troughs, or raised beds. These will all hopefully ensure good drainage, which most daffodils demand.
Troughs will be a good option for the tiniest cultivars.
Be aware that some varieties, for instance hoop petticoats from Morocco and their hybrids, require a dry period in the summer to make flower buds, and are not fully hardy, so are best grown under cover. A greenhouse or pots in conservatories or covered porches may be suitable for these.
Here at Dryad, we have special raised beds for growing the really small ones.
The first is the one shown below, which was constructed from recycled block paving. It is about 50cm high, with the top 15cm being pure sand, with spent bulb compost over inverted turves below.
The bed was originally top-dressed with gravel, but despite trying several methods, we were unable to stop neighbours’ cats from using it as a litter tray. Eventually we hit on railway ballast, which works well as a cat deterrent. For this reason we call it HS2, although it came in on time and under budget!
Most of the miniatures have done well here, but we put down a few losses to predation by narcissus fly, as it is in a very sunny spot. For the last two years we have oversown with annual flowers to provide summer cover (and a great insect buffet) and hopefully deter the flies. Snowdrops, scillas and crocus also do well on here.
A more practical arrangement for lining out seedlings for selection is our two raised ‘trenches’, simple rectangular raised boxes with polythene covers.
Even if you have only space for a few planters, you can still have fun with our minies by using the ‘drop-in pot’ method. Plant up a large pot with winter and spring flowering bedding or evergreens, then sink in an empty pot in the middle. Using matching pots, you can then grow some different cultivars inside in a porch or cool windowsill, and drop each into the sunken pot as they come into flower. You will need to make sure the waiting pots are kept as cool as possible or they will suffer being suddenly put out in the cold. We have used this successfully, but during hard frosts, it would be better to move the planter into a sheltered position.
Little Finn left, Mitzy right
Oxford Gold left, and Gavroche right
larger Swallow behind.
Narcissus cantabricus in a trough left
Jim Ladin a trough right
Twin Cam on the rock garden left
Little Emma on the rock garden right
Narcissus bulbocodium on the rock garden left
HS2 raised bulb bed
Of course, if you have a very large garden, it is wonderful to see large drifts of narcissi planted and naturalised in grass, as seen at RHS Rosemoor below.
Naturalised Narcissus bulbocodium at RHS Rosemoor
Naturalised Narcissus cyclamineus
at RHS Rosemoor
Wherever you decide to grow miniatures, they are sure to give years of spring delight. Have fun!