Suggested Daffodil Cultivars for Iowa

Daffodils are a welcome sign of spring. To enjoy their beauty, gardeners must plant daffodils in the fall. There are several thousand daffodil varieties. All daffodils can be placed into one of twelve divisions. These divisions are based on physical characteristics and genetic heritage.

Division I: Trumpet Daffodils

One flower to a stem. The trumpet or corona is equal to or longer than the "petals." (The "petals" are actually composed of the petals and sepals and are collectively known as the perianth.) Suggested Cultivars:

  • Beersheba: pure white flower.
  • Dutch Master: medium yellow flower.
  • Golden Harvest: golden yellow flower.
  • Kassells Gold: deep gold flower.
  • King Alfred 'type': yellow flower, several yellow-flowered varieties are sold as 'King Alfred.'
  • Las Vegas: creamy white petals, yellow trumpet.
  • Mount Hood: white petals, creamy yellow trumpet fades to white.
  • Unsurpassable: golden yellow flower.

Division II: Large-Cupped Daffodils

One flower to a stem. The cup or corona is more than one-third, but less than equal to the length of the perianth segments. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Carlton: yellow petals, golden yellow cup.
  • Ceylon: golden yellow petals, orange cup.
  • Flower Record: white petals, orange red-rimmed cup.
  • Fortissimo: yellow petals, reddish-orange cup.
  • Ice Follies: white petals, yellow cup fades to creamy white.
  • Kissproof: creamy yellow petals, brick red cup.
  • Professor Einstein: white petals, orange-red cup.
  • Salome: white petals, salmon pink cup.
  • Scarlet O'Hara: yellow petals, orange cup.

Division III: Small-Cupped Daffodils

One flower to a stem. The cup or corona is no more than one-third the length of the perianth segments. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Barret Browning: white petals, orange-red cup.
  • Queen of the North: creamy white petals, yellow cup.

Division IV: Double Daffodils

One or more flowers to a stem. The perianth or corona, or both, is doubled. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Cheerfulness: creamy white petals with white and yellow flecked centers.
  • Erlicheer: white petals, creamy-yellow centers, 10 or more flowers per stem.
  • Flower Drift: white with yellow-orange markings in center, one flower per stem.
  • Tahiti: yellow with orange-red markings in center, one flower per stem.
  • White Lion: white with hints of yellow and orange.
  • Yellow Cheerfulness: yellow flower, 2 to 3 flowers per stem.

Division V: Triandrus Daffodils

Two or more pendant flowers to a stem. The perianth segments curve backwards or are reflexed. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Liberty Bells: 2 to 3 medium yellow flowers per stem.
  • Thalia: 2 to 3 pure white flowers per stem.

Division VI: Cyclamineus Daffodils

Usually one flower per stem. The perianth segments curve back away from the cup. The flowers somewhat resembling the cyclamen in appearance. Suggested Cultivars:

  • February Gold: yellow with darker yellow cup.
  • Jack Snipe: white petals, yellow cup.
  • Peeping Tom: all yellow flower.

Division VII: Jonquilla Daffodils

Several fragrant flowers per stem. Leaves or foliage narrow and dark green. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Quail: 2 to 4 yellow flowers per stem.
  • Suzy: yellow petals with reddish orange cup, several flowers per stem.
  • Trevithian: 2 to 3 deep yellow flowers per stem.

Division VIII: Tazetta Daffodils

Many flowers per stem. Flowers possess a musky, sweet fragrance. This division includes the non- hardy, paper white daffodils which are commonly forced indoors during winter. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Cragford: white petals, reddish orange cup, hardy to zone 5.
  • Geranium: white petals, orange cup.
  • Minnow: light yellow petals, yellow cup, hardy to zone 5.

Division IX: Poeticus Daffodils

Usually one flower to a stem. Perianth segments are pure white. Cup is usually disc shaped. Suggested Cultivar:

  • Actaea: white petals, small yellow cup edged in red.

Division X: Species and Wild Forms

All species of wild or reputedly wild variants and their hybrids.

Division XI: Split Corona Daffodils

The corona or cup is split more than half its length. Sometimes referred to as butterfly daffodils. Suggested Cultivars:

  • Cassata: white petals, lemon yellow cup fades to creamy white.
  • Palmares: white petals, light pink frilled center.

Division XII: Various or Miscellaneous

All daffodils not falling into one of the foregoing divisions. Suggested Cultivar:

  • Tete-a-Tete: yellow petals, yellow-orange corona, 1 to 3 flowers per stem.

All of the aforementioned daffodil varieties are hardy throughout Iowa (USDA hardiness zones 4 and 5), except where noted. Illustrations from the McClure and Zimmerman bulb catalog.

This article originally appeared in the September 13, 1996 issue, pp. 154-156.

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