Mtxing up your daffodils

Daffodils simply don't have the color range that tulips do, but they do offer a fresh elegance in their whites, creams, yellows, oranges, and near-pinks. Daffodils come in about a dozen different forms, too, which aficionados call divisions. These varieties include the ever-popular trumpet forms; little ones that bloom in clusters; daffodils with tiny, almost flat trumpets; and flowers with trumpets so plush with petals they hardly seem like a daffodil at all.

A great feature of daffodils is that nothing likes to eat them! Not squirrels, not mice, not voles, not rabbits, not deer!

And many daffodils are scented. Most have a light, sweet perfume that's not overpowering. (If you're after knock-your-socks-off fragrance, check out the jonquil type of daffodils.) To capitalize on fragrant daffodils, plant them in quantity so they can make an impression. Or at least plant enough so you can spare some for bouquets and enjoy that wafting sweetness indoors. Here are some tips for choosing daffodils:

1 For single-color displays: Daffodils whose petals and trumpet are both the same color, all-white or all-yellow, make excellent massed displays, lovely in their simplicity. For a little more definition, you can seek out a few differently named varieties in the color you like. Varied forms can make such a display more intriguing.

1 For mixed-color displays: A planting devoted entirely to yellow-and-orange bicolor daffodils is a lot of fun. You can tuck in a few solids just to keep things interesting. Another nice idea is to mix the white-petaled, so-called pink-trumpeted daffodils with some plain whites.

Blending all the colors and forms doesn't tend to work well, because the pastel daffodils jar against the bolder hues and a mix of varied forms often looks too busy.

1 For a longer-lasting show: Situate daffodils in an area that gets part-day shade or filtered light.

1 For smaller areas or pots: You're best off devoting a limited area to a single variety or two compatible ones. Miniature growing varieties are also a perfect choice.

Don't mix daffodils of differing bloom times. When a daffodil is done blooming, you need to let the leaves die down (so they can replenish the bulb's energy stores for next year's show). Having some yellowing or drying leaves among up-and-coming bloomers doesn't look good at all!

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