“Dancing With The Daffodils”

“One daffodil is worth a thousand pleasures, then one is too few.” ~ William Wordsworth

Narcissus ‘Billy Graham’ ~ Division 2 Daffodil, Large-cupped ~ Blooms, mid to late season

Good morning, dear friends.  As you probably guessed this post is about daffodils.  Therefore, as my opening photo, I had to show you my favorite daffodil ~ ‘Billy Graham.’  The beautiful combination of its soft yellow petals and the pink cup is unusual, and to me, very pretty.  You will also notice it has a soft cream halo around the cup.  It is a stunning addition to any garden. 

Daffodil, the flower which symbolizes friendship.

Today, I want to share some of what I have learned throughout my gardening life about daffodils.  Much of this post is information I had the good fortune to learn during the time I was involved in garden club.  Specifically, my experiences from entering horticulture exhibits in flower shows. As you will see, there is much to know about daffodils.  

Now, perhaps you are wondering why I am sharing such detailed information.  Certainly, you won’t need to know this information or need to know which daffodil belongs to which division ~ unless you’re a botanist, daffodil collector (yes, there are daffodil collectors), or planning to enter the horticulture division of flower shows. However, seeing the full range of possibilities is certain to inspire you.  Perhaps you may see a division new to you and decide you simply must have a few.  So, find your coffee or tea and let’s begin our ‘dance through the daffodils.’  I will be anxious to hear those which you have decided you ‘can’t live without.’

“Life is the greatest gift that could ever be conceived … A daffodil pushing up through the dark earth to the spring, knowing somehow deep in its roots that spring and light and sunshine will come, has more courage and more knowledge of the value of life than any human being I’ve met.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Daffodils are divided into thirteen divisions, and in each division, there are many cultivars.  The following is the classification system of the Royal Horticulture Society and is also followed by the American Daffodil Society.  I will explain the divisions and then show a favorite cultivar of mine from each division. Additionally, Miniatures have the same divisions as standards, only smaller blooms, usually less than 2 inches in diameter. Also note, under each photo, I have given the bloom time (Early, Mid and Late season).   This information is important because, if you plan accordingly, you can have daffodils blooming from late March through the first of June. In the south, this would most likely be late February through the first of May. 

Division 1 ~ Trumpet Daffodils ~ One flower to a stem; corona (“trumpet”) as long as, or longer than the perianth segments. (“petals”).

Example: The beautiful ‘British Gamble.’  Just look at her ruffled trumpet.

Narcissus ‘British Gamble’ ~ Blooms Early to Mid Season

Division 2 ~ Large-Cupped Daffodils

One flower to a stem; corona (“cup”) more than one-third, but less than equal to the length of the perianth segments (“petals”).

Example:  Lovey Avalon

Narcissus, ‘Avalon’ ~ Blooms, Mid Season

Avalon is a beauty and always produces an abundance of blooms.

Division 3 ~ Small-Cupped Daffodils

One flower to a stem; corona (“cup”) not more than one-third the length of the perianth segments (“petals”).

Example:  ‘Eliot Ming’

Narcissus 'Eliot Ming' Narcissus, ‘Eliot Ming’ ~ Blooms, Mid Season

Division 4 ~ Double Daffodils

One or more flowers to a stem, with doubling of the perianth segments or the corona or both.

Example: Cheerful ‘Tahiti’ (a favorite of my husband).

Narcissus 'Tahiti' Narcissus, ‘Tahiti’ ~ Blooms, Mid to Late Season

Look closely at the petals of Tahiti.  This photo is wonderful as it shows the petals as they really appear ~ almost like crepe paper.

Division 5 ~ Triandrus Daffodils
Characteristics ~ Usually two or more pendent flowers to a stem; perianth segments reflexed.

Example:  ‘Moonlight Sensation’

Narcissus, ‘Moonlight Sensation’ ~ Blooms, Late Season

Division 6 ~ Cyclamineus Daffodils

Characteristics ~ one flower to a stem; perianth segments significantly reflexed; flower at an acute angle to the stem, with a very short pedicel (“neck”).

Example:  ‘Wisley’

Cyclamineus Daffodil Wisley Narcissus, ‘Wisley’ ~ Blooms, Early to Mid Season

Cyclamineus Daffodil, Wisley

Narcissi ~The Art & Soul of Spring ~ unknown

Division 7 ~ Jonquilla Daffodils

Characteristics ~ Usually, one to five (rarely eight) flowers to a stem; perianth segments spreading or reflexed; corona cup-shaped, funnel-shaped or flared, usually wider than long; flowers usually fragrant.

Example:  ‘Kedron’

Narcissus, ‘Kedron’ ~ Blooms, Late Season

Division 8 ~ Tazetta Daffodils

Characteristics:  Usually three to twenty flowers to a stout stem.  Perianth segments spreading not reflexed; flowers are most often fragrant.  Two stems are a bouquet.

Example:  ‘Falconet’

Narcissus, ‘Falconet’ ~ Blooms, Mid to Late Season

Division 9 – Poeticus Daffodils
Characteristics:  Perianth segments pure white; corona very short or disc-shaped, not more than one-fifth the length of the perianth segments; corona usually with a green and/or yellow center and red rim, but sometimes wholly or partly of other colors; anthers usually set at two distinct levels; flowers fragrant.

Example:  ‘Pheasant’s Eye’

Narcissus, ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ ~ Blooms, Mid Season

Pheasant’s Eye is an heirloom variety.  Appearing in records as early as 1830.  This is a lovely daffodil with petals like crepe paper and a pretty sheen.

Division 10 – Bulbocodium Hybrid Daffodils
Characteristics:  Usually one flower to a stem; perianth segments insignificant compared with the dominant trumpet.  This daffodil has a hoop-like shape and has grass-like foliage.  It is a great selection for rock gardens.

Example:  ‘White Petticoat’

Narcissus, ‘White Petticoat’ ~ Blooms, Mid Season

Division 11a – Split-Cupped Collar Daffodils
Split-corona daffodils with the corona segments opposite the perianth segments; the corona segments usually in two whorls of three.

Example:  ‘Drama Queen’

Narcissus, ‘Drama Queen’ ~ Blooms, Late Season

Division 11b – Split-Cupped PapillonDaffodils
Split-corona daffodils with the corona segments alternate to the perianth segments; the corona segments usually in a single whorl of six.

Example:  ‘Lemon Beauty’

Narcissus, ‘Lemon Beauty’ ~ Blooms, Mid to Late Season

‘Lemon Beauty’ is a stand out in the garden.

Division 12 ~ Daffodils not fitting any of the above definitions.  

I can’t imagine what would ever be in this division, unless it would be a new daffodil not yet named or assigned to a division.

Division 13 ~ Wild species of daffodils without names.

“Daffodils are yellow trumpets of spring.” ~ Richard L. Ratliff

Narcissus pseudonarcissus,Wild Daffodil, Lent Lily, Averill, Bell Rose, Bulrose, Chalice Flower, Common Daffodil, Daffy-Down-Dilly, Eggs and Bacon, Lent Cock, Lent Rose, Trumpet Narcissus, Yellow Crowbell, Spring Bulbs, Spring Flowers, early spring daffodil, mid spring daffodil A clump of wild daffodils.

Most wild daffodils are a pale yellow, with a darker trumpet.  The plant grows from a bulb and the flowers produce seeds.  When germinated it may take five to seven years to produce a flower.   Wild daffodils are not to be confused with heirloom daffodils, such as one may see in the countryside where old homes stand or once stood.   We have an heirloom cultivar ~ Rip van Winkle.  He came from my husband’s great grandparents home place in Western, Pennsylvania.   He appears in records from 1881.  I love his green swirls.

Heirloom Narcissus(1881), ‘Rip van Winkle’ ~ Blooms Mid Season

In closing, I do hope this post has not been ‘information overload.’  However, I wanted you to see examples from all the divisions just in case there was a type of cultivar you were unfamiliar with and would like to possibly grow in your garden.  At the end of the post, you will find reputable sources I have ordered from for years and I believe you will enjoy perusing through the selections they have to offer.   And, you may want to check them out soon, as many of the special bulbs sell out quickly. Should you be in need of a little nudge to begin your planning, I believe you will find plenty of inspiration here. 

And in closing, I opened this post with my favorite daffodil. I will close with my mom’s favorite.  Mom knew her blooms and she always said, “White in the garden is the little black dress.”

Narcissus 'Mount Hood' Narcissus, ‘Mount Hood’~ Division 1, Trumpet

‘Mount Hood’ was awarded the Garden Merit Award by the Royal Horticulture Society and the coveted Wister Award by the American Daffodil Society.  A vase of these daffodils is stunningly beautiful.

“Then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils.” ~ William Wordsworth

Dear Friends,  thank you so much for stopping by and I hope you have enjoyed your visit.  Most of all, I hope you have seen something new and beautiful you want to add to your garden.  

Know, I am wishing you glorious days ~ “Dancing With The Daffodils.”


Au Revoir,




Notes:  Narcissus is the botanical name for daffodil.  The two are used interchangeably.

Sources for Daffodils:

  1. White Flower Farm ~ http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/
  2. Brent and Becky’s Bulbs ~ http://brentandbeckysbulbs.com/
  3. John Scheepers ~ https://www.johnscheepers.com/
  4.  Old House Gardens (a wonderful source for heirloom bulbs and plants) https://oldhousegardens.com/

Images: catalogs of White Flower Farm, John Scheepers, and Old House Gardens


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Nancy Marie Allen
2 years ago

That was wonderful, Sandra! I agree with your Mom about white in the garden being that “little black dress.” It makes all the colors around it shine! That said, my favorite daffodil is white “Thalia” which loves the dappled shade in my garden and looks stunning next to old-fashioned pink Bleeding Heart.

Brenda @ It\'s A Beautiful Life

Oh my, what a lovely post. And yes, all the information was a delightful read. I’m inspired to consider planting different varieties of these special bulbs in our garden. I’m smitten with the daffodils in England where they grow cottage gardens, in fields and ditches and along river banks, so it’s time to be more diligent about adding more in our own garden. I’m inspired by you! To pick a favourite? Too hard! But your Wisely caught my attention because Rick and I visited that delightful garden during our visit to England in 2016. So it would be a lovely… Read more »

2 years ago

Absolutely NOT info overload. I love daffodils, always have, always will. I love them even more since the deer tend to go for the tulips and leave the daffs alone! Such cheerful colors — they really say “spring” to me. But for all the love, I had little knowledge and this is interesting. Last year I missed planting more bulbs but hope to put some new varieties in the garden this year. I just read your comment on your recent post but don’t know how to reply directly so I will hear. I have to say, your comments give me… Read more »

Pam Richardson
2 years ago

Sandra, this is a post that I will use for reference time and again. I had no idea there was so much to know about daffodils. You have piqued my interest and I must order some of these varieties. I agree the Billy Graham is so beautiful and Pheasant’s Eye caught my eye. You are a treasure my friend. I love your passion for beauty, especially flowers and gardening!


[…] A few years ago, I wrote a lengthy post about daffodils.  There are so many varieties and classifications. I only touched the surface in this post.  Should you be interested in reading,  visit here. […]


[…] March brings us the brilliant and dazzling daffodils. Would spring even seem like spring without them?  They are certainly a marvelous feast for our eyes after a long winter.  We are promised blue skies, sunshine, and warm temperatures this week, so many of our daffodils should open.  Namely, the King Alfred daffodils (photo above) which are mostly on the east side of our home.  Many other varieties are just peeking through the soil.  A few years ago I wrote a lengthy post about daffodils and at the end of the post, I listed several reliable sources from which to order… Read more »