Another Great Thing About Daffodils

Or not, depending on what you plan to do with the ground after the daffodils are gone.

Turns out they not only  have all the virtues recently extolled, they also ” contain alkaloids that can inhibit the growth of other plants,” according to a paper titled “Applied Allelopathy: Effects of Daffodils on Other Species in Sustainable Agriculture and the Home Landscape,” presented at the 2009 conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science.

daffodils have something in common with black walnuts and garlic mustard

daffodils, like black walnuts and garlic mustard, can inhibit the growth of other plants

The authors were looking at success with followup crops like snapdragons, geraniums, basil and zinnias ( all of them adversely affected) but on the good side, “no airborne weed seeds germinated in pots placed outdoors containing daffodils but did germinate in pots with no daffodils.”

That second quote comes from  HortIdeas, which alerted me to the daffodil paper. HortIdeas is a newsletter-form aggregator of recently published horticultural and agricultural information from hundreds of universities, plant societies, popular magazines and commercial interests, all presented in digest form. It’s one of my favorite publications, heartily recommended to all hortnews geeks.

The daffodil in the picture is a mystery. The corolla is double and the trumpet is absolutely stuffed with deeply frilled petals. They have enormous substance; petals are almost as thick as cardboard and very long lasting.

front view of mystery daffodil

front view of mystery daffodil

A small clump of them appeared in Maine this spring – and because I had no memory of planting anything like them I spent a lot of time looking at catalogs and searching narcissus sites trying to figure out what they were. No luck. So I sent a picture to Becky Heath, of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and she said it ” looks very much like a mutation of a yellow trumpet already named ‘Hardy Lee’.  They are outstanding in the garden!”

So then of course I said ” Do you sell them? I didn’t see any in the catalog.” No, as it turns out, they don’t. Yet. But they will in the next couple of years, after they’ve built up enough stock, she said.

Armed with a name, I looked ’em up, only to learn that ‘Hardy Lee’ was hybridized in Holland sometime before 1994; it isn’t registered with the Royal Horticultural Society and it has no descendants. Also no current sellers that I could find. Seems like once again the Heaths are ahead in the something good department and here’s hoping their  supply increases as quickly as possible.

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