The daffodil, also known as the Narcissus, is the birth month flower of March. Daffodils are symbols of rebirth, new life, hope, wealth, good fortune, and friendship. They are also the symbol of unrequited love, vanity, and excessive self-love.
Among the first flowers to bloom in spring, Daffodils nod their cheery heads to greet the warm spring sunshine. Daffodils have a trumpet shaped center, surrounded by a star shaped background. They generally come in yellow and white, though there are red varieties as well. Many have two colors, such as white in the center and yellow on the inside.
Daffodils were grown by the Greeks and Romans, but fell out of popularity until 1629, when a few Englishmen took the daffodil out of the wild and put it back in the garden again. They were thought to be a garden “must have” in America.
For the Greeks, daffodils were known as Narcissus. It was believed that a young man named Narcissus looked so long into a pool at his own reflection that he died of thirst, and was turned into the daffodil flower. The name may also come from the narcotic properties of the bulb (narkoa means to numb in Greek).
The Romans believed that the sap of the daffodil had healing powers (it actually irritates the skin). The daffodil was also used as a measure of last resort for injured soldiers on the battlefield. Eating a bulb causes a narcotic effect, which numbs pain but also kills. This is caused by the poison lycorine, which is present mostly in the bulb, although some is contained in the leaves.
The Chinese believed the daffodil was a symbol of wealth and good fortune. It blooms around the time of Chinese New Year, and if your daffodil blooms on New Year, you are said to have extra good wealth and fortune for that year.
Daffodils are one of the easiest plants to grow. Plant a bulb about 6-8 inches deep in a sunny, well drained spot. They need lots of water. After the plant blooms and the leaves start to yellow, cut it back. The plant will come back year after year.