This is a repost from March 26, 2012. In Connecticut, bloom timing for daffodils is one month later in 2013 compared with 2012, but the information about daffodil sap remains relevant from year to year.
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) do not 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.
I use two methods for picking daffodils. I either slice or snap the flower stalks near their base, then hold stems bloom-end downward 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.
Bouquets like these will cheer up even the gloomiest Gus.