Planted together Narcissus (daffodil) bulbs and specialty (minor) bulbs lead to pest-resistant, perennial and naturalized landscape garden designs.
According to Sally Ferguson of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center, “Bulbs are called good perennializers if they come back at least three years in the garden, under proper growing conditions.
Bulbs are considered good naturalizers if they will come back and will also increase and multiply over the years, when planted where conditions are right.”
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Flowering Bulb Care After Spring Bloom
Whether bulb combinations are perennial or destined to naturalize, remove dead flowers from daffodils to allow energy produced by leaves to accumulate in bulbs instead of being spent to produce seeds.
Allow seeds to mature in specialty bulb flowers such as Scilla (squill), permitting plantings to spread more quickly.
Allow bulb foliage to yellow and die back naturally as they go dormant in summer months. Cutting, tying or braiding foliage before maturity prevents bulbs from producing and storing energy needed to grow and bloom again next year.
Daffodil and Specialty Bulb Combinations
Some of the following design combinations are from English landscape gardens and others from a New England landscape garden. They are, however, suitable for plant hardiness zones 4/5 to 7/8, depending upon specific microclimates where planted.
Lawns or Open Woodlands under Deciduous Trees: Very Early Spring (February and March)
Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop), Crocus tommasinianus, C. tommasinianus roseus and C. tommasinianus cultivars like ‘Barr’s Purple,’ ‘Lilac Beauty’ and ‘Ruby Giant’ team well with Fritillaria meleagris (Snake’s Head Fritillary) and miniature species Narcissus like N. bulbocodium (Hoop Petticoat Daffodil) and N. jonquilla simplex (Simple Jonquil).
Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ (Blue Squill) possesses one of the bluest flowers available and naturalizes well as a companion for early daffodils such as Narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’ and N. ‘Ice Follies.’
Garden Beds and Borders Among Perennials: Mid-spring (April and May)
Camassia leichtlinii (Wild Hyacinth, Quamash) (Photo #2) naturalizes as a transition plant blooming between triandrus daffodils such as Narcissus ‘Thalia,’ N. ‘Hawera,’ N. ‘Petrel’ and pest-resistant early-blooming Hemerocallis (daylilies) such as H. lilioasphodelus (H. flava) ‘Lemon Lily’; H. ‘Stella D’Oro,’ H. ‘Happy Returns,’ and H. ‘Little Grapette.’
Pathways or Stone Walls under Light Shade: Mid-to Late Spring (May to Early June)
Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish Bluebell) grows strong and blooms well with easily naturalized daffodils like Tazetta Narcissus ‘Geranium’ and Large Cupped Narcissus ‘Flower Record’ under light shade from native or naturalized small trees like Cercis canadensis (redbud), Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda / Alternateleaf Dogwood) or Halesia tetraptera subspecies Monticola (Mountain Silverbell).
Short-cupped yellow Narcissus ‘Quail’ and fragrant white N. ‘Thalia’ contrast with cobalt blue flowers of Muscari armeniacum on edges of shrub borders filled with Fothergilla gardenia and Deuzia gracilis ‘Nikko’.