It just wouldn’t be spring without daffodils. These cheerful early bloomers — daffodils and narcissus — speak of new beginnings in the language of flowers. The daffodil is the birth month flower for March. And indeed, March and the official calendar arrival of spring is the perfect time to celebrate the sunny daffodil.

Crabby comment of the week

Yes, everyone knows that after they are finished blooming, the daffodil foliage that is left behind looks rather icky. But don’t cut it off, and for the love of all things good, don’t be tempted to braid or twist or whatever it is you are compelled to do in an attempt to tidy it up. You won’t be fooling anyone. Just leave it alone! That tatty foliage is performing an important job that involves photosynthesis, and is in effect working to store enough energy in that bulb down below to enable it to bloom again next spring. So, hands off!

Daffodils, also referred to as narcissus from their flower genus, bloom from bulbs that are planted in the fall. These hardy bulbs wait patiently all winter long to spring forth and greet the season. No wonder the daffodil also symbolizes faith, honesty, truth and forgiveness. All meanings aside, daffodils are one of the best spring flowering bulbs to plant. Unlike most of the showy and multi-colored tulips, which at best can only guarantee a couple seasons of blooms, daffodils “naturalize.” That means they multiply and spread!

Plant daffodils or narcissus in a sunny, well-drained location, and over time prepare to be rewarded with the poetic “host of golden daffodils.” Just remember every five years or so to dig up the clump, divide the bulbs and replant. They are the springtime gift that keeps on giving.

And when it comes to daffodil choices, the options are almost endless. In all, there are some 25,000 registered selections (cultivars) of daffodils and 13 divisions of daffodil species. Some are more suited to this particular climate than others, and their bloom times also differ, with early, mid- and late-season bloom times. Plant a variety for an extended period of blooms. Choose from tiny tete-a-tete narcissus with blooms an inch or less across or go big and bold with ‘Acataea’ pheasant's-eye daffodils that measure up to four inches in diameter or select big yellow daffodils for maximum impact.

When selecting bulbs, look for those suited to Zone 5, and then select the bloom size, colors and bloom times from the many choices for carefree and lovely spring blooms.

Daffodils have been a garden favorite practically forever; in truth since about the year 300 BC when it is believed that daffodils were first cultivated in Greek gardens. Just in case you forgot, the narcissus was named after the vain Greek god who was turned into a golden flower, and not another self-centered person whom we shall not name, yet who often is accused of narcissistic behavior. The story goes that the Greek guy, Narcissus, was so obsessed with his own reflection in water that he drowned, and the narcissus plant sprang from where he died.

Botanically speaking, narcissus is a genus of predominantly spring perennial plants in the Amaryllidaceae family. Various common names including daffodil, daffadowndilly, narcissus and jonquil are used to describe all or some members of the genus, according to Wikipedia.

If you have not planted any daffodils for blooms this spring, or if you discover that you have not planted enough, this is a great time to correct that mistake. Cut some weatherproof markers from plastic yogurt containers or something that can be used to make the bald spots where a clump of daffodils would look great next spring. Insert a marker in each sunny, well-drained spot, deep enough so that it will remain there all summer. Come next fall when you’ve cleaned out the flower bed or border or wherever your markers lie, that is where you will rediscover them and use them to make the places where daffodil bulbs can be planted.

Rule of thumb for planting spring flowering bulbs is to plant them at a depth of at least three times the diameter of the bulbs. In the meantime, get ready for spring and the blooming of the daffodils, hosts of them. Looking for some tried and true bulb selections? Visit the Old House Garden’s Heirloom Bulbs website at: oldhousegardens.com for a selection of trusted daffodil varieties.