Plant of the week
Narcissus 'Cotinga' (Daffodil)
Why you should plant it
We all love bulbs and so do the squirrels, but planting narcissi – a.k.a. daffodils – alone or in combination with other bulbs may offer a solution: They're poisonous, so the scamps may pull them out of the ground, but they won't chew them to bits. This elegant new specimen of daffodil provides glorious colour (it has apricot-pink cups and pale ecru perianth, the outer frilly petals around the edge) and is compact in size. It's also perennial, which means that it will return every year, eventually forming lovely clumps.
Where to plant it
Plant bulbs when the soil temperature has dropped to about 9 C. Be sure to water them deeply to develop a strong root system. Bulbs emerge before most leaves have unfurled so it's possible to plant them everywhere. Plant in combination with tulips and you might save the latter; to my mind, though, they look happiest when they're partnered with small, naturalizing bulbs such as scilla and near shrubs and ferns to mask yellowing foliage. Plant groups with some muscari; its leaves develop in autumn and will indicate where you've done the work.
What it offers
You can grow narcissi in pots or in the ground, in sun and in shade. Their sole problem is that the foliage hangs on for weeks before it yellows down. Whacking it off is a great temptation but this is next year's food, so don't cut it back or you will lose or weaken the bulb. Place them judiciously and you can have something in bloom for up to two months. 'Cotinga' is considered an early-to-mid season bulb and grows to 32 centimetres, making it a lovely, tidy plant for a small garden or container. Check to see which ones have scent and which will naturalize (spread) and mix them up by the dozens.
Source and cost
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