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Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'

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Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'

Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'

This beautiful little daffodil lights up Wisley in March. Although small, its bright yellow flowers add a glow to Battleston Hill and the Wild Garden, areas which soon become shady when the canopies open later in the year. You can also find this vigorous daffodil growing in the grass in Howard's Field and on Seven Acres.

Vital statistics

Common name
Daffodil
Family
Amaryllidaceae
Height & spread
15cm (2.5in)
Form
Vigorous, dwarf, Division 12 (Miscellaneous) daffodil bearing 1-3 flowers in early spring
Soil
Moderately well-drained fertile soil which is moist in the growing season
Aspect
Any
Hardiness
Fully hardy and can withstand temperatures down to –15°C

Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'

This genus of around 150 bulbous perennials is found in meadows, woodland, river silts and rock crevices in Europe and North Africa. Thousands of cultivars have been propagated for their attractive spring flowers and a few bloom in autumn or winter. Flowers may be yellow, white or, occasionally, green and number between one and 20 on one stem.

The family Amaryllidaceae derives its name from the genus Amaryllis which is named after the beautiful shepherdess of classical poetry.

The genus Narcissus is named after the beautiful youth of classical Greek mythology who became so entranced with his own reflection that he pined away and was turned into a flower by the gods. The word is possibly originally derived from an ancient Iranian language.

All narcissi are grown for their attractive flowers, borne usually in spring, but sometimes in autumn or winter. There are thousands of cultivars.

Leaves are strap-shaped or cylindrical and 15-75cm (6-30in) long, depending on the species.

Flowers are borne on leafless stems, 1-20 flowers per stem, depending on the species. Each flower has six petals surrounding the corona (cup or trumpet), which can be flat or long and narrow. The colour is usually yellow or white, occasionally green with some having red, orange or pink coronas. Some are fragrant.

Most daffodils are suitable for planting in a woodland garden, between shrubs, in containers or naturalized in grass and the smaller species are suitable for rock gardens.

Contact with the sap may irritate skin or aggravate skin allergies.
For horticultural purposes, daffodils are split into 13 divisions.

Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête'

This is a vigorous, dwarf, Division 12 daffodil bearing 1-3 flowers in early spring, on average between late February and April. The golden-yellow flowers are perfect to lighten up dark areas and are beautiful in mass plantings.

It is easy to grow and compact, making it ideal for smaller gardens and areas where the traditional size daffodils can be too much. It has been bred to have multiple flowers per bulb for a fantastic display. This cultivar can also be grown indoors for early flowering.

Cultivation

  • Plant bulbs at one and a half times their own depth and 5-8cm (2-3in) apart in autumn, slightly deeper in grass and light soils.
  • For bulbs naturalized in grass, delay the first cut until the seeds have dispersed.
  • Water freely and apply a half strength high-potash fertilizer weekly. Bring indoors as the buds begin to open.
  • All Narcissus are prone to large narcissus bulb fly, narcissus eelworm, slugs, narcissus basal rot and other fungal infections and viruses. Forced bulbs may be damaged by bulb scale mite.

 

Propagation

  • Separate offsets when the leaves fade and replant in early summer.
  • Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe, in deep containers, in a cool frame. After germination keep them cool, moist and frost-free. Transfer seedlings to a nursery bed after two years and grown on until they reach flowering size, which may be up to seven years.

AGM

The RHS Daffodil and Tulip Committee awarded Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête' an Award of Garden Merit and described it as:

'Dwarf daffodil to 20cm tall, with 1-3 bright yellow flowers, 5-6cm wide, the perianth segments slightly reflexed and lighter yellow than the cups.'

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