Nacissus are the classic spring-flowering bulb. For many people, appearance of these delicate flowers outside signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Indoor gardeners can enjoy narcissus too—they are generally less than a foot in height and bought already in bloom in decorative pots. Like other spring-flowering bulbs, narcissus can be forced to bloom, but will require a chilling period of about 12 weeks. The exception to this are the aperwhite narcissus (Narcissus jonquilla Tazetta type), a warm-weather Asian type that doesn’t require chilling to bloom.
Water: Keep moist during growth period.
Temperature: Cooler (around 65ºF).
Soil: Loose, well-drained potting mix. Consider adding pebbles to improve drainage.
Fertilizer: During growing period, use weak liquid fertilizer weekly.
Like other bulbs, narcissus multiply by putting out new bulbs and forming a clump. However, as with other indoor bulbs, most people discard the plant after bloom or transplant it outside. Offsets aren’t as vigorous as their parents.
Usually not necessary, as the most common indoor narcissus (the paperwhites) are sold in decorative pots or as planting kits that are designed to be discarded after the 3-week bloom is over.
Daffodils and narcissi belong to the same genus, but the term daffodil is generally reserved for larger plants where the large central tube is at least as long as one of the petals. The rest are called narcissus. The most popular varieties are the smaller N. cyclamenius (including the lovely yellow Tete-a-Tete variety); the various daffodil hybrids, which can grow to two feet tall and include varieties like the King Alfred, Dutch Master, and La Riante; and especially the N. jonquilla Tazetta type, also called the paperwhite narcissus.
The paperwhite narcissus (see above) are frequently sold as blooming kits. These are a great way to get started with bulbs—they don’t require a chilling period and bloom readily with a pot of tall, fragrant flowers. The plants may need staking to remain upright.