Daffodils are the premier heralds of spring. Looking forward to that yellow, white, bi color, doubles, split corona, multi floral and fragrant flowers have been anticipated for thousands of years after a long winter. What, there are more than just yellow trumpet daffodils?
Yes, according to the American Daffodil Society there are between 40 and 200 recognized species, depending on which authority is questioned. They list over 25,000 known cultivars. There is nearly an endless choice of varieties to choose from.
Should you consider only buying your bulbs at the local mega hardware store, now that you know there are this many different varieties?
Perhaps you would like something just a little bit different. The next obvious source you may consider are all those seed and bulb catalogs that seem to magically appear in your mailbox close to the time you may want to purchase their inventory.
You will certainly find a larger variety there. Most of these are imported bulbs from the Netherlands.
What’s the Best Source of Bulbs?
Decoded Plants asked Susie Wert, who expresses her feelings about this topic quite well when she says, “The Dutch grow great bulbs, but let’s not forget that their prime consideration is not the stamina of the variety in the heat and cold of Indiana weather, nor is it the strength of the stem, nor is it the beauty of the flower. Their prime and only, consideration is how it stores — by the millions — over the Dutch summer before exporting.”
Susie Wert and Sara Kinne, both members of the Indiana Daffodil Society, as well as other regional and national positions in the American Daffodil Society feel that your best source for daffodil bulbs will be your local daffodil club.
These non-profit clubs have members that live locally to your own garden. “… bulbs that are grown locally in your area will be known to be hardy and flourish in your region” says Sara.
These club members have been testing and growing these bulbs for years. They will know if a bulb is not hardy. They will know if a bulb suffers from lifting and storing. These members have varieties you will not commonly find in any other way by the hundreds of varieties.
Most local clubs have bulb sales- these sales are staffed by club members. Frequently they will have their own personal images of bulbs displayed at the sale too. Staff can answer particular concerns about these choices as well.
Remember that these clubs are non profit and educational in nature. The friendly and helpful club members in the Indiana Daffodil Society use “…the proceeds funding three $1,000 scholarships to Indiana collegiate recipients.” explains Sara.
Instead of the profits from these sales going to the top 1% of society, they are being used to encourage new generations of plant growing enthusiasts and scientists.
When to Start Thinking About Daffodils?
Now it just so happens that no matter when you begin to think about daffodil bulbs, it will be a good time to start. Frequently, and in most of the local, regional and national meetings, there is a cut bloom judging event.
There is no easier way to see hundreds of different cultivars in a small area all at one time. The cut flower enthusiasts groom their bloom so that you will see only the best of the best.
While you are writing down names of cultivars you like, someone will be within arm’s reach that has grown the flower and will tell you in extensive detail all you could want to know about that daffodil.
Thankfully most of our Smart Phones take superior images to remind you later of the beauty you don’t want to forget. Keep track of your spring choices so that when you attend sales that begin late summer through fall, you’ll remember to ask about them. You should contact your local club for dates.
Some, like the Indiana Daffodil Society, have several sales around central Indiana. Sara often mans a table at the popular Saturday Farmer’s Market in Bloomington Indiana, for example.
Club Bulb Pricing & Where to Find Local Clubs
All of the club bulbs were very reasonably priced with bonus bulbs for large orders. It was common to find unusual cultivars that sold for less than those wholesale bulb catalogs.
You can find your local clubs on the American Daffodil website. This source will tell you about cut flower display shows times, contacts and locations for local societies. There are rare occasions when unusual spring weather will impact event times. It is always a good idea to double check advertised dates to be safe.
Common Cultivars vs. Expert Knowledge: Support Makes Your Garden Bloom
Sure one can get some good prices for common cultivars through mail order companies. But, wouldn’t it be nice to have something a little different? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone with expert knowledge guide you in your choices? Won’t the world be just that much better because your support will help a student?
Lastly, it is one of those friendly networking groups we all need in this age of electronic relationships. Membership is something you may wish to consider for extra special bulbs offered only to members as well as a whole new set of friends. Finally, daffodils are not restricted to the US. Ireland, Great Britain and New Zealand all have large and active societies as well as world class hybridizers.