Contributed by Muscatine Master Gardeners

Each year, the National Garden Bureau selects one annual flower, one perennial flower, a bulb, and an edible crop as plants of the year. For 2017, daffodils are the bulbous crop.

When most gardeners think of daffodils, bright yellow trumpet-shaped blooms such as those of the ‘Unsurpassable,’ pictured here, come to mind. However, many forms and colors are available. Daffodil aficionados classify Narcissus–the botanical name for the plant–into 13 divisions. One of those divisions is Jonquilla, giving rise to jonquil, another common name for that specific group of daffodils.

If you’re not already growing daffodils, this would be a great year to give them a try. They are one of the most reliable of spring bulbs in Iowa because they tolerate heavy clay soils and are virtually deer- and rabbit-proof, due to poisonous alkaloids in all parts of the plant. For bouquets of blooms next spring, plant dozens of daffodil bulbs this fall in October or November. Larger bulbs will yield bigger blooms, and if you can find double-nose bulbs (with two growing points), you may be rewarded with two bloom stalks from one bulb.

If you’re already growing daffodils, allow the foliage to die down naturally before cutting it back after bloom. Until the leaves turn brown, they are photosynthesizing and building up the below-ground bulbs for next year’s floral display.