Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Different Kind Of Daffodil

The Peruvian daffodil (Ismene or Hymenocallis x festalis) is not widely planted or known, though the flower is beautiful and the plant is very easy to grow. Actually, it is not a daffodil at all. The blooms have an exotic appearance, something like a cross between a daffodil and crinum. Fragrant flowers are white or yellow. Glossy, evergreen, strap-like foliage adds a rich appearance to the garden. They have no serious insect or disease problems. Plant height is 18" to 24".

Hymenocallis is cold-hardy in USDA climate zones 8-10, preferring rich, moist but well-drained soil with pH in the range of 6.1 to 7.5. The plants prefer full sun, but light shade is tolerable.

If grown in colder climates, plant outdoors after danger of frost is past. A soil test will indicate any necessary soil amendments. Your local Cooperative Extension Service will send you soil sample to a lab for testing. Fees are nominal. Call their office for instructions.

Prepare the soil by cultivating deeply and incorporating recommended soil amendments. The bulbs should be planted 8" deep and 12" to 15" apart.

Flowers usually appear within two weeks of planting, so Peruvian daffodils are perfect for filling in garden spaces after flowers like tulips and narcissus have finished blooming. Blooms appear before foliage emerges, so the plants seem a bit naked for awhile.

In those areas where they are not cold-hardy, Hemerocallis bulbs should be dug just after first frost and allowed to dry. Roots must be left intact. After excess soil is removed, the bulbs can be stored in a warm, dark area of the home.

Peruvian daffodils are also excellent for container gardening, especially in mixed plantings. If forcing, the bulbs can be brought into flower by bringing them into a warm, well-lit room. After blooming, they can be planted outdoors when weather has warmed.

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Liisa said...

I purchased some Hymenocallis 'Sulfur Queen' bulbs for a container. In colder climates, (zone 4,) can these be treated just as those that you plant in the ground? Meaning, can you store the bulbs over the winter and replant in pots for spring? Or, would they be better treated as annuals?

GoGardenNow said...

Thanks for your interest, Liisa. They can be stored over winter and replanted in spring. If grown in containers, stop watering when foliage has died back. You can store them in the container in a dark place where temperature ranges between 50 and 60 degrees F. If grown outdoors, lift them after foliage has died, but before frost. Keep as much root intact as possible. Rinse, or brush soil from the bulbs with a soft brush. Allow the bulbs to dry a bit, and store in a box of dry sphagnum peat or perlite in a dark place. Store where temperature ranges between 50 and 60 degrees F.

Ashley said...

What a wonderful site! I'm a hobby gardener and found your site to be very useful.

I also wanted to let you know that your category drop down menu on your main site doesn't work properly in Firefox or Chrome. It falls behind the main content block and I can't get to those deeper pages!

GoGardenNow said...

Thanks Ashley. I appreciate your comments. I've been after my webmaster to fix the drop-down menu problem. If you simply click on the main categories in the green margin, it will take you inside where you can easily access the sub-categories.