I like to think of my Grand Primo narcissus (Narcissus tazette ‘Grand Primo’) as “harbingers of spring”. They are always one of the first thing to bloom in the new year . Their white, star shaped petals topped with the bright yellow center cup, always reminds me that spring is on its way. I have hundreds of these lovely and reliable harbingers scattered across my property. Some were left for me by the last home owner but the bulk of my collection was passed to me by a very generous friend.
There are many varieties of narcissus that do very well in all parts of Texas. However, Grand Primo is the most hardy and prolific in our part of Central Texas. Grand Primo readily naturalize here. Not only do they come back year after year, they divide. And because of this, you can turn a few bulbs into a whole bunch in just a few years.
Narcissus are incredibly easy plants to grow. Their bulbs love a nice, loamy soil but they will grow in most Texas soil types. Many of mine are in unimproved black gumbo and they do just fine. However, the ones that bloom first and divide most readily are the ones in my well worked flower beds.
Since Narcissus bloom in January, it is best to plant them in the late summer or early fall. Realistically, you can plant them just about any time. However, if they are planted to late in the fall they may not bloom the first season after planting. Don’t worry about this, it is normal and they will do fine in the second season.
Since these bulbs divide so well, you can easily divide them to get more plants. All bulb plants have a similar growth cycle. They flower and then put out additional foliage. This foliage does the photosynthesis for the plant. All of those green leaves are capturing the sunlight that the plant then converts to food that it stores in the bulb. This foliage is usually present for about six months after the bloom. Once the foliage fades the bulb goes dormant until the conditions are right for it to sprout. Because Grand Primos bloom in January, you should divide them late June or July (For more information on harvesting bulbs, check out my “Bulb Hunting” post from last February).
Whether you buy your bulbs or harvest them, you should plant them around early September. To plant your Grand Primo bulbs, dig a hole about two to three bulb lengths deep. Place the bulb in the hole with the wide end down. If you are not sure which end to put down, simply lay the bulb on its side. Cover the bulb with soil, water in and wait. That is all there is to it. These bulbs have an almost 100% success rate when planted in this manner.
As you drive around town on these cold, gray January days, look for the bright white and yellow Grand Primos. They are everywhere! These beautiful “harbingers” will brighten your day and remind you that spring really is just around the corner again.