Stephen Vinisky, Oregon

Hardy Fall blooming Daffodils ? – REPLY

January 29, 2011

Categories: Bulb Information, Growing Daffodils

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Hi George and welcome,
I am new on  daffnet…..and have a beginner question, hope  it is allowed.
Answering questions of those with an interest is one of the key reasons that DaffNet exists! Not only are such questions “allowed”, they are very much encouraged. Please feel free to ask any question that touches on any aspect of the daffodil. Someone on this forum most probably has the answer and/or will point you towards where you can get answers.
Are there any hardy fall blooming daffodils ?  Hardy for zone 6-7 ?


Sorry to be the bear of bad news but, to my knowledge, NO, nothing yet exists that is both a true fall bloomer and reliably hardy for Zones 6 or 7. There are, however, some new hybrids in the “pipeline” that have multiple characteristics of the fall bloomers which have been combined with the “regular” spring bloomers and seem to be quite hardy. These new things do bloom in late winter or earliest spring and so are not fall bloomers.
Oddly enough, it seems to me that the bulbs themselves of the fall bloomers appear to be generally hardy. The “difficulty” seems to me to be with the foliage. As a group, the fall blooming species seem to be triggered into growth by cool nights, fall rains, some combination of these, or even based on other factors. They immediately send out a bloom scape from a bare, unrooted bulb. At about the peak of bloom the basal plate swells and the bulb slowly roots in over the winter. The leaf or leaves and stem continue to grow steadily and elongate over the winter. In areas where the ground freezes deep and hard, the leaves sometimes blacken and turn to mush. In my experience, the leaves often come through OK but are often frozen off right at ground level. Possibly severed off by alternate freezing and thawing.
This loss of leaves sets back (often severely) the size and health of the bulb. The bulbs remain viable and alive even if horribly shriveled and underweight. It seems to me, from the perspective of a hybridizer, that there might be some genetic combinations that might allow for fall blooming period followed by slow root growth over winter with leaves appearing in the spring. I am not aware of anything that exists with these specific traits. I would bet that finding this combination of traits would be fiendishly difficult.
If you are willing to consider late winter or spring bloomers that do have multiple characteristics of the fall bloomers, then my answer is that availability is much closer. Hope this helps a little.
Steve Vinisky


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