I love narcissus but am not a big fan of daffodils. I particularly like Pheasant's Eye, or narcissus poeticus. Also known as the Poet's Daffodil. Confused? The first thing to clarify is that narcissus and daffodil are one and the same: The former is Latin and the latter is Common.
The daffodil that I can't get excited about is the bright yellow trumpet type, so ubiquitous in spring. The lovely ones, those with scent, or with shivery windswept petals, or with a small ruffled red-rimmed cup, they are all daffodils too but we call them narcissus because we prefer them. So, here are five of our favorites for planting indoors or out. Order your daffodil—make that narcissus—bulbs now.
Above: Classic Narcissus poeticus, which brings scent in May after the common or garden daffodils; photograph by Kendra Wilson.
Its nickname is "Pheasant's Eye", of which there are many variants: this is Bath's Flame (Above). Narcissus poeticus 'Baths Flame' Bulbs are available from Shipton Bulbs; 5 bulbs for £5.50. For US readers, Narcissus poeticus Var. Recurvus Bulbs at White Flower Farm are similar; 12 bulbs for $18.95.
Above: From the swept-back-petal group, cyclamineus, is the delightful, diminutive 'Mitzi'. For UK readers, the not dissimilar Narcissi Jenny is available from Sarah Raven; ten bulbs for £7.95. For US readers, the Narcissus Snipe is a beautiful option from White Flower Farm; six bulbs for $15.95. Photograph by Bertie Bainbridge via What Ho, HIdcote!.
Above: Narcissus 'Thalia' is from the multiple-head group. Photograph by Ryan Somma via Flickr.
It is pure white and highly highly scented, so would be perfect in a pot by a window or door; also naturalizes in grass. Narcissus 'Thalia' Bulbs are available from Crocus; £3.49 for ten. In the US, Narcissus 'Thalia' Bulbs are available from Van Engelen; 100 bulbs for $37.
Above: Narcissus 'Paperwhite'; Photograph by Kendra Wilson.
There are other daffodils to force indoors over the holidays, but nothing touches the paperwhite. The bulbs are programmed to bloom six weeks after flowering; keep them cool and give them a framework of twigs after planting the bulbs, as they do grow tall and they will flop. Paperwhite Ziva Bulbs are available from Crocus; 10 bulbs for £5.99. For US readers, Paperwhite Ziva Bulbs are 50 bulbs for $29.75 from Van Engelen.
For more on forcing paperwhites, see DIY: Bottle-Fed Paperwhites.
Above: Narcissus 'Juanita' for classic daffodil yellow, with a cup of pure narcissus orange. Naturalizes around trees. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.
For a similar look, the Narcissus 'Red Devon' Bulbs are available from Crocus; ten bulbs for £3.99. For US readers, Narcissus 'Brackenhurst' Bulbs have the same striking orange center and are available from White Flower Farm; 12 bulbs for $17.95.
See The Rarefied Daffodil for more (ruffled) options.