Narcissi are perennial plants with scented and fascinating flowers, which embellish the gardens with their elegance and intoxicating scent.
Its name comes, in fact, from the Greek word “narkào”, or “stunner”, because the ancients believed that the scent of its flowers had a power, precisely, narcotic.
But narcissi also evoke the Greek myth of the young and beautiful Narcissus, who only fell in love with himself, to the point that, reflecting himself in a lake, he wanted to capture his reflected image and drowned. For this reason, the narcissi grow with the flower facing the water, because, also vain, it seems they almost want to reap their own beauty.
They are suitable for creating borders or elegant bushes and daffodils and hyacinths are a very choreographic and appreciated combination.
The wild narcissus is native to the Mediterranean area, but its cultivation has gradually spread to central Europe, the Alps, the Balkans and then in France and England to the Middle East.
Narcissi belong to the family of Amaryllidaceae and are part of the category of bulbous plants, ie plant species that produce flowers and leaves from underground bulbs.
The narcissi bulbs are no larger than 10 cm and produce rather thick and fleshy ribbon-like leaves, light green in colour, in the centre of which a long stem can reach a height of 40-50 cm. The flower is apical, in the shape of a trumpet, with a central crown adorned with soft petals that open outwards.
In nature, the narcissi are white or in shades of yellow, but there are also some hybrids of pink narcissi.
There are more than 60 species of spontaneous narcissi and about one hundred varieties and natural hybrids.
Those whose cultivation is most widespread in our country are:
The wild narcissus, Narcissus poeticus, also known as the May flower, with white petal flowers and yellow calyx.
The daffodil, Narcissus jonquilla, a particular type of narcissus, with a very intense scent and more flowers on the same stem.
The narcissus trombone, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, a wild species with an intense yellow color.
The narcissus tazetta, Narcissus tazetta, with its particular cup-shaped crown flowers, which give off a very sweet scent, similar to that of honey.
The narcissi are very simple plants to cultivate, require little care and are perfect for embellishing gardens or terraces, because they grow beautiful and lush both in the ground and in pots.
They are not very demanding plants, they hardly get sick and bloom faithfully every year. They are, in fact, perennial plants, which renew themselves by themselves, storing the necessary nourishment during the vegetative rest and producing new bulbs in the following season. It is sufficient to cut the wilted flowers at the end of the cycle, and, then, to leave the plant to dry up in a natural way.
The narcissi must be implanted from September to December, before the arrival of the frosts, to ensure a good root system.
The bulbs are to be buried with the head turned upwards, at a depth of 10-15 cm and at a distance of about 20-25, which can be reduced if we want to create an effect of greater density, as, for instance, in pot.
Narcissus grows well in any garden soil, as long as it is fresh, soft and rich in organic matter.
To avoid excessive humidity and consequent damage to the roots, it should be well drained.
Narcissuses are neither afraid of heat nor cold and can withstand temperatures a few degrees below zero.
However, they should be exposed to direct sunlight during the flowering phase, while they should be shaded during the vegetative rest.
Always avoid places exposed to winds or draughts.
Narcissuses do not need excessive watering, also because they suffer a lot from water stagnations.
They are to be regularly watered during the vegetative period and in case of strong drought, but in winter the watering may also be suspended, considering that the specimens cultivated in open air will benefit from the natural precipitations.
The best system is always to feel the soil to verify the degree of humidity.
Narcissi can be fertilized in spring and summer, with a fertilizer poor in nitrogen and rich in phosphorus and potassium.
When they enter the vegetative rest and the leaves begin to yellow, the fertilizations must be stopped.
Narcissi do not need to be pruned, except for the periodic elimination of flowers and dry leaves, to lighten the plant and allow the birth of new bulbs.
To ensure a clean cut of the parts to be removed, always use suitable gardening tools such as shears or scissors.
Narcissi bloom in spring, but you can also induce the bulbs to bloom in winter.
The technique requires a little care, you can try to do that:
- Move the pot to a cool, dark place, at a temperature between 2° and 8°.
- After a month, the shoots produced by the bulbs will sprout and you will see small white roots coming out of the drainage holes of the pot.
- At this point, gradually move the pot in areas of the house brighter and brighter, with temperatures between 15 ° and 8 °.
- After 10 days the narcissus can be placed near a window with temperatures of 20° and within a few days should bloom.
We have already talked about the myth of Narcissus and, for this reason, in the language of flowers, narcissi are symbols of excessive self-love, vanity, selfishness and presumption, while in the positive sense they represent security, self-esteem and self-confidence.