A word about flower variation in daffodils

Every location presents a unique combination of cultural conditions. Climate, aspect and soil would appear to result in subtle differences in the flower shape and colouring of some daffodil varieties.

Sometimes, changes in colouring as the flower matures are consistent, and indeed may be essential in helping to identify the cultivar: for example, both ‘Albatross’ and ‘Seagull’ flowers open with an orange-red rim – but it is a diagnostic characteristic that ‘Seagull’ loses the contrasting rim, while ‘Albatross’ doesn’t.

Mature, rimless, ‘Seagull’ flowers

A young, red-rimmed ‘Seagull’

Rim colour is not always a reliable aid to identification as some old varieties are not very sun-proof, and their cups burn back readily.

We have noticed that, growing plants here in north-west Scotland, some mid-season Division 2 Large-Cupped cultivars, such as ‘Brightling’ and TYNDRUM FLAME, produce uncharacteristically long and slender perianth segments.

Do the cool, wet summers here trigger early flower bud initiation within the bulb, enabling an unusually long period of floral development, we wonder?

‘Brightling’ in Cornwall (mature flowers)

…and the same stock at Croft 16 (young flower)

Is this why we are quite unable to identify some of our un-named stocks?

Early-flowering varieties do not appear to be quite so affected.

Nutrient deficiencies can influence flower shape too. For instance, a lack of boron can lead to unusually stumpy perianth segments with uneven margins and with a greenish cast.

For three seasons, every corona of ‘Evangeline’ was decorated with an orange rim on opening, having been a uniform, luminous yellow for the previous twelve.

The correlation between unusually cold winters and the orange-hued rim is likely to be ruled out, as the last two winters were mild and wet.

To conclude, daffodil flowers exhibit considerable variation, not only from season to season and from site to site, but as they expand, develop and reach maturity. Please, therefore, regard the images as a guideline only.