N. serotinus growing notes

October 28, 2019
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Categories: Autumn Blooming Daffodils, Bulb Information, Daffodil Types, Growing Daffodils, Planting, Pots, Soil, Species, Weather and Temperature

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I thought I’d write about my experience growing Narcissus serotinus over the past year as I find things like this written by others to be fascinating. Feel free to offer advice or critique. I’m a beginner hoping to learn!

I purchased a single bulb labeled Narcissus serotinus in the autumn of 2018. When it arrived, it had no roots but had begun to send up a flowering stem, which soon aborted. I potted it in a 3.5 inch plastic pot with Bonsai Jack organic bonsai mix (a sharply-draining, coarse medium consisting of pumice, pine bark, and some kind of fired clay pieces).

Soon after, it sent up a single leaf, the only leaf it sent up the whole growing season, which ended in May 2019. The leaf was narrow and glossy green, similar to foliage of N. jonquilla I have. The leaf grew long (about 12″ or more) and flopped over, but I kept it propped up on other plants.

I kept the pot in full sun over the course of winter, watering it about every other day unless there was rain. I fertilized it one or two times per week with very dilute 9-3-6 Foliage Pro liquid fertilizer. Unsure about how hardy it was, especially in such a small pot, I moved it indoors overnight on the days we had heavy frost or freezes (I’m in zone 8a).

When the leaf began to turn yellow and wither, I stopped watering it and removed it from where it would get rain. When the leaf died completely, I unpotted the bulb, noticing a modest increase in size (about 1″ in diameter or a little less). I kept the bulb unpotted over summer, indoors in a dark well-ventilated closet.

At the end of September of 2019, or whenever I began to see photos others were posting of autumn-flowering daffodils in their native habitats, I repotted the bulb in the same Bonsai Jack organic medium, this time in a 4″ deeper plastic pot, watered it, and placed it outside in the shade. It was still quite warm outside, reaching the 80s-90s F during the day.

After a week or two of seeing no response, I unpotted the bulb again and saw no signs of growth, in spite of the watering. I repotted it again and this time I kept the pot in the refrigerator overnight on two successive nights, moving it outside in the shade again during the day. On the day after the second night of refrigeration, I noticed the the bulb had pushed itself upward. I unpotted it again and found that it had sprouted roots.

Potting it one final time, a flowering stem emerged a few days later. As it turned out, I was out of the country over the next two weeks, so I never saw it flower, though the person who watered my plants while I was gone took photos. It had two flowering stems, one with two flowers, the other with one flower. The corona was greenish. The flowers were described as fragrant. Now that I’m home again, I see the remnants of the two flowering stems, as well as a single leaf which has emerged. I continue to keep it in shade, but plan to move it to sun and fertilize it when the temperatures drop more.

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8 Responses to N. serotinus growing notes

  1. Harold Koopowitz, California
    Harold Koopowitz, California
    October 28, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Can you publish the photo?

     

  2. Ross Hornsby, Alabama
    October 28, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Sure, they were not in focus but it gives the overall impression.

  3. Harold Koopowitz, California
    Harold Koopowitz, California
    October 28, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Ross:

    The proper name for this is Narcissus miniatus. Serotinus has a shorter narrower corona and  an inflated tube behind the perianth.

    Harold

  4. Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee
    Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee
    October 28, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Ross, thanks for your detailed description. I don’t currently have serotinus or miniatus, but am having trouble getting fall-blooming daffodils (cultivars and species) in general to bloom in pots here in middle TN. They put up foliage and multiply year after year, but won’t bloom so I’m looking for tips on how to bloom these bulbs in the south. Thanks so much for your information.

  5. Harold Koopowitz, California
    Harold Koopowitz, California
    October 29, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Becky:

    Try this. During the growing season feed once a month with a general fertilizer. Miracle Grow works. You need big enough bulbs. Then make sure the pots are dried out during the summer months.  Get a heating pad – like the ones used for starting seedlings and place the pots on it from June through end of September. If you can, set the temperature on the heating pad for about 75-77F. Then take the pots off the pads so the pot temperatures can cool down. Start watering again in October. If your bulbs are big enough you should get flowers. Even from difficult species like N. viridiflorus.

    Let me know how it goes.

    Harold

    Harold

  6. Larry Force, Mississippi
    Larry Force, Mississippi
    October 29, 2019 at 10:29 am

    I do something similar with those types of fall blooming species. I grow in pots and fertilize 2 or 3 times in the winter months with 1/2 strength Miracle Grow. I cover with a tarpaulin when temperatures are in the teens or even lower. I remove the covering when temperature rise above freezing. That helps conserve the ground temperature and  usually keeps the pots from freezing through and through. If temperatures fall to single digits, I can move to my greenhouse. That seldom happens in my 7B zone.  They are moved in the spring, after the foliage dies down and kept dry during the summer. I have plenty of heat from June to Sept. They are subject to the outside temperatures which range from the 80’s to high 90’s, so no heating pad is needed. I begin to water toward the last of Sept. to mid Oct. as outside temperatures begin to cool down.  Miniatus and viridiflorus will be in bloom within 2 to three weeks. It is amazing how soon the fall blooming species react to the watering after being dry all summer. Both are in bloom now.

  7. Ross Hornsby, Alabama
    October 29, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Harold, thank you for the correct identity. If anyone is interested, I got the bulb from rareplants.co.uk so it seems that the N. serotinus they sell is actually N. miniatus.

    Becky, it seems like I did something similar to what Harold suggests, and it worked for me in this case. Like Larry, I did not need additional heating since I kept my thermostat at 78F through summer.

    I also have a N. broussonetii that I treated similarly, though it only recently showed signs of waking from dormancy so I don’t know if it will bloom this year.

  8. Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee
    Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee
    October 29, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks, all. I will follow the suggestions and hope to get these bulbs to bloom!