Alpine Garden Society

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Narcissus cantabricus

Narcissus cantabricus Narcissus cantabricus is a must in the Alpine House for brightening up the dark days of winter. Its various forms flower from December through to February and a pot has occasionally been used to decorate the Christmas dinner table! A pot of N. cantabricus var foliosus has just been brought in in full flower (early January). The picture alongside depicts N. cantabricus petunioides.

The name cantabricus refers to the area of Cantabria in Northern Spain where the sepecies was originally thought to originate, but in fact it is a plant of Southern Spain, Algeria, Morocco and the Balearics.

For me, N. cantabricus grows well in a mix of equal parts of John Innes 2 and coarse grit with a top dressing of grit. It is kept in an Alpine House or Cold Frame all the year round, to protect the flowers and foliage in winter and to provide summer ripening for the bulbs. Watering starts in September with occasional liquid feeds (high potash) Feeding and watering stops as the foliage dies back in May and the pots are allowed to dry out completely over the summer. Repotting is only carried out every few years, pots sometimes being left undisturbed as long as four or five years.

Similar treatment suits all of the early flowering hooped petticoat daffodils such as forms of N. bulbocodium and N. romieuxii.

These are plants that will never see an AGS show, but no one with an Alpine House or frame should be without at least one potful.

Jim McGregor