Daffodils Bring New Beginnings

Daffodils are my favorite flower. They are just so happy and easy to care for. I have loved their laughing, bobbing blooms since I was a little girl playing in my great-grandmother’s garden.

Scientific name: Narcissus 

Common name: Daffodil

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Language of flowers meaning: A single flower means one sided or unrequited love, multiple flowers means kind regard.

Daffodils are the birth flower for people born in March! They are perennial flowering bulbs that are one of the first to bloom at the end of winter. They grow to be a little over a foot tall but don’t bush out at all. A handful of long, lance-shaped leaves surround a stem topped with a big flower that can range in color from white to orange, but is usually yellow. The most unique characteristic of this flower is the frilled-edged cup or “crown” that protrudes from the center of the bloom.

Daffodils,

That come before the swallow dares, and take

The winds of March with beauty

William Shakespeare, “The Winter’s Tale” Act IV Scene IV Line 141-143

Lore

In an ancient Greek creation tale, Zeus and Hades used daffodils to trap Persephone. For those of you who weren’t mythology nerds in school, I’ll just give you the short version. Hades (Lord of the Underworld) had a huge crush on Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (Goddess of the Harvest). So, he got his brother Zeus (you’ve heard of him, right? King of Olympus?) to help him kidnap her and take her to the Underworld.

While Persephone was gathering wild flowers in a meadow with her friends, Zeus conjured a Narcissus flower to get her attention and lure her away from her companions. It worked, and she was whisked away by Hades. 

The most commonly known Greek myth regarding Narcissus is the story of its namesake. Narcissus was a man of uncommon beauty, but disinterested in the affections of his admirers. In fact, he had treated the nymph Echo so coldly that the goddess Nemesis decided to teach him a lesson. When Narcissus bent to drink from a pool of water, he saw his reflection and was immediately enchanted.

He fell so in love with himself that he was unable to look away or leave the pool. Instead, he stared into his own visage, longingly, until he wasted away. When the nymphs came to collect his body, it was gone. In its place was a beautiful flower, so they named it after him.

Definitely look these stories up. They have all of the drama and intrigue you expect from Greek tales.

Symbolism

Daffodils have a duality to them that is interesting. In the language of flowers, a single flower represents unrequited love. Conversely, a group of more than one daffodil represents kind regard or deep affection. So, with the same kind of flower, you can either tell an admirer that you have deep feelings for them or that you’re just not that into them. 

Because they are one of the first flowers to bloom and signal the arrival of spring, they can represent rebirth or new beginnings. A vase with a bunch of daffodils is supposed to attract abundance into the home. However, like the flower language, a single daffodil is bad news. It is said to bring bad luck and poverty. We don’t want that.

Growing information

I find daffodils to be incredibly easy to grow, especially in my location. You are supposed to plant them in late summer to early fall in more normal places. I plant them in November, but that is because summer is eternal in Texas. 

They prefer to be in “full sun” to light shade. They don’t like their roots being wet, so they need good drainage. Once you pick a good spot, plant the bulbs with the pointy side up 7 inches down into the soil. They also prefer to be about 7 inches apart.

I water them quite a bit in the spring, but slow down on that once they go dormant in the summer. I don’t really feed them at all and they always look great. However, if you don’t get as many blooms as you like, you can use a high nitrogen fertilizer when they first begin to emerge at the end of winter. Honestly, they are pretty low maintenance.

I have always loved daffodils. They seemed so happy and bright, bobbing their heads to the breeze in my great-granny’s garden. Every year, they signaled the beginning of warmth and fun. Flowers and egg hunts, longer days and spring showers on the way. It is time to get out the galoshes and gardening gear. My favorite time.

Resources

If you want more information about daffodils, check out these resources!

  1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “daffodil”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 Jun. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/plant/daffodil. Accessed 3 March 2024.
  2. Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. Little, Brown and Company, 1942.
  3. Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet from The Folger Shakespeare. Ed. Barbara Mowat, Paul Werstine, Michael Poston, and Rebecca Niles. Folger Shakespeare Library, 3 Mar, 2024. https://folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/romeo-and-juliet/
  4. “Flower Meanings: The Language of Flowers.” The Farmer’s Almanac, 17, Oct 2022, www.almanac.com/flower-meanings-language-flowers. Accessed 3 Mar, 2024.
  5. Goodwin, Tim. “March Birth Flower: The Daffodil and Its Meanings and Symbolism”. Almanac, 28 Feb, 2024, https://www.almanac.com/content/march-birth-flower. Accessed 3 Mar, 2024.
  6. Longfield Gardens. “All About Daffodils”. https://www.longfield-gardens.com/article/all-about-daffodils/. Accessed 3 Mar, 2024.

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