HELP: Daffodils in pots for a wedding!

duckytheloonJune 20, 2010


This is my first post ever on GardenWeb, even though I've had an account for quite a while. I am de-lurking because I need your help! This message has also been posted in the container gardening forum.

I recently got engaged (June 6th, to be precise), and my fiance and I are in need of some daffodil advice...relevant to our wedding!

I am studying to become a field botanist, and he himself comes from a very nature-oriented family. What we believe to be "Twin Sisters" (N. x medioluteus) is naturalized on his beloved family farm from an old home site. He grew up admiring this heirloom with its "loving couples" twinned blossoms, and it occurred to us that they would be very symbolic and lovely if used as the main flower in our future wedding. Having spent much time together rescuing and tending daffodils made the idea seem even more romantic and appropriate. However, this variety does not seem to be a very reliable bloomer here in Kentucky. We have finally decided to switch to another biflowered variety for this occasion and would love to hear everyone's advice on varieties and culture.

I have been looking into the triandus division for our possible replacement, the variety Ice Wings being the leading favorite. According to my research, it bears 2-3 flowers per stem, has graceful form and lovely coloring, and is available from wholesale catalogs at reasonable prices (we are a young couple and need to scrimp and save!). I have been assured that like Thalia (the only triandus I have experience with), it blooms reliably and in plenty in the first year from planting. If there are any varieties you would recommend for our purposes over this one, please let me know. Here are our specific questions...we hope that someone might be able to answer them for us!

When can Ice Wings be counted on to be in bloom in Lexington, Kentucky (USDA zone 6a)? We are considering having our wedding in mid-April, but want to schedule it for the peak of bloom season. Available data indicates that it would be in bloom at this time (notwithstanding some climate catastrophe), but information from experienced locals on when its season ranges would set my mind at ease.

Will Ice Wings grow well in containers? We would like to plant part of our order in the ground to supply flowers for bouquets and decorations, but the rest we would like to plant in small pots to serve as both decorations at the reception and as wedding favors for our guests (with cards instructing how to plant and care for them). Considering how reliable and long-lasting plantings of daffodils can be, we thought this would be the most enduring (and endearing) way of giving a lasting token of our wedding to our guests. We would want to put three bulbs per pot for most...what would be the minimum required dimensions for this pot? Can you give us any advice regarding planting and care of these pots...soil, watering, overwintering, planting depth, et cetera? I have heard a lot of worrisome things about rot!

In reference to both these questions, this is what the supplier Van Engelen said:

"If grown in containers, the containers must be trenched or sunk into the ground with 4" of soil on top of the pot. The pot must be completely under the ground. In mid March when the frost has left the soil and the pot is moveable, take the pot out of the ground. Water well and give light. The drawback here is that the plant may flower prematurely. It will be hard to have them bloom on the date you are targeting. This can be controlled by temps-keep the pot very cool to retard."

Would this information be correct? They did not give any information on pot size. If following this method, what would be your suggestions to keep the pots cool? I have a brick patio that is completely shaded by a wooden deck. It can stay very cool under there and we can keep the bulbs there at this stage, but will it be enough? As ridiculous as it sounds, would adding ice cubes to the tops of the pots be a good idea if they start to get too far along?

I am anxious to reserve my bulbs soon, hence the early posting. We appreciate all the advice we can get!!

Thanks a million in advance!


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Um, I worked as a florist for 20 years at a local garden center/greenhouse.

What you propose to do is very difficult to time out properly. Bulbs are really EASY to force, the problem will be that, without commercial refrigeration equipment and proper greenhouse conditions, it will be virtually impossible to get them looking like you want them on the day you want them. A commercial grower with the right equipment would force them out about 7 to 10 days ahead, and then would put them back into cold storage to hold them. He would also probably insist on a backup plan in case this didn't work out, because things can always go wrong -- I know I would have in this situation.

It also sounds like you want to time your wedding to coincide with the peak bloom of your selected daffodil variety outdoors as well (in addition to the potted, forced ones for indoor use). The problem there is the same -- you just never know what the weather will bring. I live in Michigan -- this year, the first daffodils opened in late March, and almost all varieties were gone by the first of May. In a typical year, most varieties are just going strong on May first, and I've seen particularly cold springs when there were still daffodils in full bloom on Memorial Day weekend. You just never know what will happen due to the weather.

My honest suggest is that, if you really want to have potted, forced narcissus in bloom on a certain date in mid-April, I would talk to several local greenhouses that produce their own potted bulbs and see if they would be willing to do some custom growing for you. Make sure they have the proper facilities -- a large storage cooler, and some experience with weddings would help a lot. And, be sure to make some sort of alternate choice of something that is easy to obtain at that time of year (azaleas, kalanchoes, potted mums, etc.) just in case it doesn't work out.

Good luck and congratulations on your engagement.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 12:34PM
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Thanks for your help! Oops, I guess I should have explicitly said that I already had backup plans for all this! I have extensive home gardens of my own and I am very aware of the impact that weather has upon the phenology of even the most reliable own daffodil beds were absolutely trashed by a bizarre spring heat wave just this year.

Anyway, I just hadn't tried to implement a complicated plan like this before (and I'd never planted bulbs in pots) and hoped there would be a way to do it at home. I had assumed that this was my only realistic option. It had crossed my mind that *maybe* a local florist/greenhouse could help me out with this, but I thought it would be a slim chance. Since someone in the container gardening forum also suggested it as an option, maybe it's not so impossible. It would take a lot of the stress out of the wedding preparations (which will be bad enough) if I can get someone to take care of it for me. Now I just need to do a lot of calling around and hope it works out...otherwise, it's going to be seed packets for wedding favors and lots of backup florist/garden flowers!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 9:56AM
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