As we enter the prime bulb-planting season, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the results of its garden trials of shorter daffodils and the top 12 varieties to receive the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Each year the RHS runs comprehensive trials of popular garden plants to find those that are the best for gardeners to grow. Over a two year trial period, at RHS Wisley, 64 daffodil entries were assessed on their impact, quality of foliage, length of flowering, their health and vigour.
In hues of bright yellow, orange and white, daffodils are renowned for heralding the arrival of spring. They are easy to grow, hardy perennials that provide year on year colour and a huge 26,000 cultivated varieties to choose from.
The shorter daffodil varieties (under 35cm) are becoming increasingly popular reflecting the desire of gardeners to grow more compact varieties that may be used as an alternative to, or planted alongside, long-stemmed daffodils. With their shorter stems they are especially useful in containers and window boxes. Entries to the trials were submitted by growers from the UK and the Netherlands and this is the first trial to focus on shorter daffodils.
The recently completed trials identify the very best garden-worthy varieties winning a RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). The 12 varieties include:
- 'Tête Bouclé'
- 'Angel's Whisper'
- ‘Moonlight Sensation’
- ‘Winter Waltz’
- ‘Medway Gold’
- ‘More and More’
- ‘Yellow Sailboat’
- ‘Tiny Bubbles’
Commenting on the awards Emma Allen, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Head of Horticultural Relations, said “For sheer cheerfulness and marking the arrival of spring daffodils are pretty unbeatable. Whilst their popularity has led to thousands of cultivars it is sometimes difficult for gardeners to know which ones will perform the best. Our trials and the RHS Award of Garden Merit help gardeners make the best choice for them and ensure that they can look forward to wonderful, year on year displays of beautiful daffodils.”
The Award of Garden Merit is made on the comparison of trialled varieties and judged by a panel of experts, including nurserymen, specialist growers and horticulturalists.
Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturalist at the Royal Horticultural Society, provides his tips for planting daffodils. “For most gardeners the earliest daffodils start in the new year, with many more in March and April and finishing with the lovely poet’s daffodils flowering later in May. Daffodils are a glorious sight in spring, with delicate white and lemon hues to bold sunshine, yellow and orange varieties. For new gardeners they are easy to grow and affordable.”
Growing your own daffodils:
- Prime bulb planting season is mid September to November. This allows the bulbs to put out roots well before the temperatures drop in winter.
- All you need is a trowel or bulb planter.
- Plant them twice the depth of the bulb or three times the amount if you have sandy soil. Some bulb species are very tiny and can be planted at a greater depth.
- If growing in containers the bulbs can be packed tightly together, halfway down the pot.
- After planting water them well.
- Come spring you’ll have a riot of white, yellow and orange blooms.
- After flowering leave the leaves for six weeks.
- Remember they need nothing more than garden soil (unless in pots when peat-free potting compost is used), good drainage and lots of rain when growing and flowering.
Once awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM), the AGM logo is displayed on the plant’s label to show that it performs reliably in the garden and has earned the AGM seal of approval.
In addition to the 12 new daffodil Awards of Garden Merit, 13 new tulip AGM’s and 3 Fritillaria AGM’s have been awarded. Details of current and past RHS plant trials can be found at www.rhs.org.uk/trials-awards or for advice and tips visit www.rhs.org.uk/plants/daffodils.