Cut Daffodils Don’t Play Well with Other Flowers

I love filling my living spaces with vases of fresh-cut daffodils. They cheer up the darkest mood and warm the chilliest room.  But I learned that cut daffodils (narcissus is their botanical name) don’t play well with other cut flowers in the same vase.

Cut daffodil stems exude a sap containing calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals prevent other flowers in the same vase from absorbing water, causing them to wilt. The same crystals can also irritate human skin leading to ‘daffodil itch ‘ a contact dermatitis common among people who pick or work with the cheery spring bloomers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA cut flower suppliesI use two methods for picking daffodils. I either slice or snap the flower stalks near their base, then hold cut stems bloom down to keep the sap in the hollow stem. This works well when picking just a few daffs at a time. To gather a bunch of daffodil blossoms, I carry a small clean bucket or other non-breakable water-holding container to the garden. After cutting, each stem quickly goes into the clean water-filled bucket. Using this method, the flowers can rest in the water until I have time to arrange them in a vase of fresh water.

To keep these or any cut flowers fresh longer, replace day old water with fresh.

While daffodils are lovely when bunched alone in a vase, I like to add a touch of contrast. So rather than sentence another type of bloom to early death, I snip a few woody branches to accompany my daffodil bouquet. I love the contrast of the warm daffodil petals with the dark, but dainty, structure of birch or beech branches, such as in these photos from previous years.

narcissi bouquet          narcissi in mason jar

A bouquet like this will cheer up even the gloomiest Gus.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Joene Hendry

17 comments for “Cut Daffodils Don’t Play Well with Other Flowers

  1. March 27, 2012 at 7:03 am

    It’s amazing what a simple touch will do to enhance a whole arrangement. The daffodils by themselves are a little stiff in a vase, but just add branches and twigs and it all loosens up gracefully. Genius!

    • joenesgarden
      March 27, 2012 at 8:54 am

      Laurrie, the simplest bouquets are often the best. Glad you enjoyed these.

  2. March 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Beautiful arrangements, Joene – and great information; I didn’t know these cheery little faces had a bad side.

    • joenesgarden
      March 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Lee, so glad you enjoy the arrangements. Roses have thorns, daffodils have sap. Don’t you find we often have to pay a price for beauty?

  3. March 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Very lovely post and photos! I appreciate how you combine science, beauty, design and housekeeping.

    • joenesgarden
      March 27, 2012 at 11:24 am

      This is one of the nicest comments I’ve received, Tiny Tim’s Garden. Thank you so much!

  4. March 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Indeed, beauty has its price, which we happily pay. Speaking of roses, the breeders have gone too far for me, making roses without thorns, not to mention those with no fragrance. Don’t get me started.

  5. March 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I like the idea of pairing the bouquet with branches…lovely. And I usually put them in water immediately, but I like your tip on holding them upside down until you get to water….beautiful photos!

    • joenesgarden
      March 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Thank you, Sage Butterfly. Cut daffodils are one of my favorite vase flowers … so bright and cheery.

  6. Severina_moone
    March 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I like to use a few budding salix (pussy willow) or hazel twigs when arranging daffodils. They add structure as well as bringing in the feeling of spring.

    • joenesgarden
      March 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Great idea, Severina. Thanks for sharing.

  7. April 16, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    What a great bit of information. I need to be reminded of this every year….love putting my daffodils with other plants in the vase. Next year I will remember about the crystals and just use a variety of daffs.

    • April 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks, Janet. I’ve used cuttings from a budding blueberry with daffodils with some success, at least for a day or so. But other flowers just don’t last with daffs.

  8. April 18, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Oh, I love the twig idea! I am usually still doing spring pruning when the daffs start blooming.

    • April 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Kathy, that’s how I came up with the combo … I’m usually outside pruning when I’m picking my first daffs.

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