Narcissus x susannae

Yep, it is Friday, I have had a trying week, so it is geeky plant post time! I could really use a hug or several but retreating into the vegetable kingdom will have to suffice.

Many years ago, when I first started getting interested in bulbs, I bought a copy of ‘Narcissus, a guide to wild daffodils’ by John Blanchard. I was captivated by one of the photographs in this book, showing the naturally occurring hybrid Narcissus x susannae. This plant combines the best features of both parents, with slightly pendulous pure white flowers on short stems only a few inches tall.

This hybrid occurs in a few places in Spain where populations of the parent species, Narcissus cantabricus and Narcissus triandrus, occur close together. Both parent species are illustrated above.

Though both parents are common enough in cultivation the hybrid is sadly not. It is almost never offered commercially and gifts from friends have fared badly under my garden conditions. Their advice was to make the cross myself by hand pollinating the two parents – both of which I grow. The theory is that the surviving seedlings would be, by default, adapted to my conditions.

This sounds easy enough but in cultivation N. cantabricus flowers much earlier than N triandrus for me. So I removed an anther from N cantabricus and stored it in the fridge until N triandrus was in flower so I could make the cross. Then sowed the seed and waited. Three years later, in 2017, the first bulbs flowered. They were pure N triandrus so it looked like my attempt had failed and I had just achieved selfing. Much to my surprise and delight in February 2018 the remaining bulbs flowered and several were the beautiful hybrid!

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Also this year an exceptionally nice form of N cantabricus flowered for the first time, from seed offered by the late plant hunter Jim Archibald, so I have remade the cross using this and we will see what happens in three or four years from now…

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45 Comments

  1. Hugs Darren. Sorry I’ve been silent. I love the idea of a place where all these beautiful bulbs are indigenous! I know that they all come from somewhere (usually northern hemisphere) but the thought of a whole field of say, daffodils, is amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One of the curious things to me about the Australian flora is that there are so few indigenous bulbs despite your having huge areas of habitat with the classic Mediterranean climate they require. I guess evolution went in a different direction there. The spanish mountains are usually cold and wet at the time the wild Daffs flower so you won’t find me there!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marie💕
      I can understand why there are so many Narcissus cultivars out there as they hybridise easily and there are so many possible combinations. But this particular cross occurring in the wild shows nature still knows best as it is gorgeous.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually I am hopeless and never know what to talk about. I didn’t like kids much even when I was one! She does seem to like me though. I reckon kids are like cats and are fascinated by people who are not comfortable with them!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ha! You’re right … my husband is utterly foul to children and they adore him, can’t get enough of him and squeal with delight when he (rarely) plays with them. If it’s any consolation, I too loathed children when I was a child … they were foul to me because I wasn’t the same as them. Adults were safe so I stuck with them. Have a happy Friday 😀

            Liked by 1 person

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