Your Online Gardening Information Center

Plant Library

Daffodil or Jonquil?

Posted on March 8, 2016 at 12:00 PM


With March comes the first flowers of the spring season and one of my favorites is the daffodil.  Their bright, cheery colors are a welcome break from the gray and brown winter scene.  Depending on where you live these flowers may be referred to as daffodils or jonquils.  Did you know, however, that all jonquils are daffodils but not all daffodils are jonquils?

Both daffodil and jonquil are common names for types of bulbs in the genus Amaryllidaceae - the Narcissus.  Each flower has a trumpet or cup (the corona) and petals (perianth).  They come in a variety of colors, usually yellow, white, orange and pink.  Most are fully winter hardy in zones 3 - 9. Horticulturally, Narcissus are split into 12 separate divisions of which jonquils is one.

Jonquils                                          Daffodil varieties

So what is the difference between a jonquil and a daffodil?  The name 'daffodil' can be used to refer to any bulb in the Narcissus family.  'Jonquil' however only refers to one type of daffodil.  Jonquils technically are those daffodils which have 2 or more flowers per stem.  They are often fragrant (think paperwhite narcissus) and have short, round petals.  Most people use the name daffodil to refer to the large trumpet shaped flowers that we usually see in spring.

Miniature Tete' a Tete' daffodils

Narcissus prefer to be planted in a sunny or light shade area with well-drained soil.  Dead-head the flowers after blooming.  The bulb will then put all of it's energy into renewing the bulb for next year rather than making seeds.  Remember to let the foliage die naturally.  This is how it stores food for next year's flowers.  If your daffodils don't seem to produce many flowers it might be time to divide them.  Gently lift the plant, pull the bulbs apart and re-plant them.  The rule of thumb for planting depth is to plant them 3 times the width of the bulb...usually about 5-6 inches deep.

Daffodils can be forced to bloom indoors (see our bulb page for instructions) and also make great cut flowers.  They are one of the easiest plants to grow and will reproduce naturally, providing you with years of color!

Categories: Garden Blog