By Nikki Phipps
The winter daffodil, also called lily-of-the-field, is one of the best fall-flowering bulbs you can find in the garden. Growing about six to ten inches, winter daffodil plants produce bright green foliage and vibrant yellow, crocus-like blooms that will brighten up a fall border or rock garden.
Wintering Flowering Daffodils
The winter daffodil (Sternbergia lutea) comes from a small genus, Sternbergia, of about eight known species. However, despite their limited number, members of the genus are widespread, extending all the way from southwestern Europe into southwestern Asia. Turkey is home to the greatest number of Sternbergia species.
It is the winter daffodil, however, that is the most common species in cultivation today. These bulbous plants are very popular in gardens with a long history in cultivation, being first introduced around 1596.
Growing Sternbergia Winter Daffodils
Winter daffodils can be grown in open beds or borders, and rockeries. Winter daffodils are also ideal for containers.
Knowing when to plant Sternbergia bulbs is important for their overall success. The bulbs of winter flowering daffodils should generally be planted in late summer within a sunny area consisting of well-drained, humus-rich soil. In hot climates, the bulbs need be set only an inch or two deep, but in cold winter regions, deeper planting of around the four to five inches is recommended.
Care of Winter Daffodil Plants
Winter flowering daffodils are not too demanding; they are very easy to care for. When in active growth, the winter daffodil does enjoy plenty of moisture. However, during winter, these plants should be kept as dry as possible. So if you live in a winter rainfall region, it may be best to grow your winter daffodils in pots that can be easily moved indoors.
Although winter daffodils can set seed, propagation of this plant is best accomplished through the division of its offsets once the foliage has died down. Unless necessary, however, winter daffodils are best left to grow into dense colonies without much disturbance.
Generally unaffected by problems with pests, the winter daffodil is a great addition to nearly any garden. However, if not situated within a well-drained site, these bulbs can develop bulb rot.