Tips for Using Daffodils as Cut Flowers
After a long, cold winter, the sight of daffodil foliage pushing through the earth fills my heart with glee. As the stalks lengthen and the buds begin to open, I’m overtaken with excitement for warmer days ahead. I eagerly grab my trusty gloves and head to the long border to cut a big bucket of cheerful daffodil flowers.
As I open the garden gate, I’m immersed in the sights and sounds of spring. The birds are singing a grand concerto in the distance, apple blossoms fall like nature’s confetti, the sweet smell of soil fills the air, and new fresh growth can be seen everywhere. Pulling the first Dutch Master daffodil from the earth I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of hope. After the darkest of days, the garden has come to life yet again.
I gather hundreds of beautiful narcissus each spring, and love filling the house with their delightful blooms. Yellow Cheerfulness in a footed crystal vase for the powder room, Delnashaugh in delft blue china for the kitchen, two mason jars of Blushing Lady for the bedroom side tables, and a grand compote design filled with Silver Smiles and Pueblo adorns the dining room buffet. There are daffodils everywhere, and I’m in spring floral heaven.
I have planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs in my garden and each spring the flower show grows. In just 4 or 5 years, a few bags of autumn-planted bulbs can become a sea of yellow, white, and peach blooms. Even with their great capacity to multiply, I always wish I had planted more. Pre-ordering your bulbs in spring or early summer (for shipment in fall) is a good way to make sure you don’t forget to order additional bulbs.
Although daffodils can be picked any time they are in bloom, there are a few tricks to ensure a long and happy vase life. When the blooms first emerge, you’ll notice that the bud are held straight up, in line with the stem. If you harvest the flowers in this “pencil stage” they will never fully open. Instead, wait until the color is fully visible and the head is almost perpendicular to the stem. This is called the “goose neck” stage, and it’s the ideal time to pick single daffodils. On the contrary, double daffodils should be harvested a bit later, when they are half open.
Some people can experience itching or a rash when working with narcissus, so exercise caution and wear gloves when harvesting. Use your hands rather than scissors or snips to harvest. Point your thumb down toward the earth, reach all the way to the base of the stem, and then pull up. Using this technique ensures the longest stem length, and also means less sap is released from the stem.
The sap that daffodils secrete is toxic to other flowers, so they should be conditioned separately before being used in mixed bouquets. Place freshly harvested daffodils into cool water and let them sit for three hours. During this time, the sap will run out from the stem. After conditioning, dump out the initial water, wash the vessel, and refresh with new water. Now, your daffodils can safely be paired with other blooms. Remember that each time you make a fresh cut the sap will flow again. So, if you’re working on a free form design, cut the varying stem lengths required for your piece prior to conditioning.
Daffodils pair beautifully with ranunculus, hyacinths, hellebores, anemones, and early tulips. You can also take advantage of spring flowering branches such as forsythia, lilac, and quince. These woody cuts create a strong framework for spring designs. If mixed arrangements are not your style, simply gather a handful of daffodils and display them in a small jar or heirloom vase.
Favorite Varieties for Cutting
Choosing favorite daffodil varieties for cutting is like choosing a favorite child. Each brings their own unique charm to an arrangement, and I’ve never met one that didn’t put a smile on my face. Below, I’ll mention a few that have stolen my flower-loving heart, but please choose your own personal favorite varieties. All daffodils are fabulous in the vase.
Delnashaugh – These beautiful, late-blooming double daffodils have layers of large, pure white petals interspersed with ruffles of apricot-pink. They have sweetly scented flowers and long sturdy stems. Harvest double daffodils once the blossoms are at least halfway open. If picked too soon they will fail to open in the vase.
Yellow Cheerfulness – What a fabulous name for this buttery yellow beauty. Yellow Cheerfulness is an heirloom treasure with clusters of intensely fragrant, primrose yellow flowers. This color pairs beautifully with blue hyacinths and long-stemmed pansies. Lovely in the garden and beautiful in a vase.
Love Call – This stunning, split corona daffodil is sure to sweep you off your feet. A skirt of ivory petals sets off Love Call’s ruffled, bright orange cup. The blooms are unique enough to hold their own in a vase, but also work beautifully when combined with other daffodil varieties in a more elaborate compote design.
Pueblo – This white jonquilla daffodil should be on every cut flower daffodil list. It’s one of the longest lasting varieties I’ve ever trialed, and the petals change color as the blossoms mature. The petite blooms open soft, primrose yellow, before maturing to creamy white. Each sturdy, 12″ tall stem is topped with a bouquet of one to three flowers.
Dutch Master – Perhaps you’re surprised that I’m including such a common daffodil on the list. In fact, many floral designers and cut flower growers shy away from bright yellow daffodils in favor softer peaches, pastel pinks and ivories. Call me old fashioned, but I love this classic variety. I don’t mind that it screams spring. Rather, I embrace its triumphant arrival and enjoy pairing it with other bold blooms.
Learn More About Growing Daffodils
You can pre-order daffodils starting in April, for shipping at the proper planting time in fall. Shop our complete selection of daffodils HERE.