Completely pink daffodils, similar to the well-known completely yellow and white daffodils, are not available yet.
Present-day pink daffodils mostly show pinkish cups, coronas, or just a pink corona rim. The large blooms of elegant ‘Pink Charm’ clearly belong to this rimmed type. Pink daffodil petals, perianths, are mostly whitish. Yellow petals combined with pink cups are scarce but they can be found in ‘Memento’ or the more vibrant ‘Fidelity.’
Then, in the daffodil world, what exactly is this colour called pink?
There is a large range of variable pinkish hues: bright reddish-pink, coral, salmon, apricot, amber, peach, melon, extremely pale pink, almost beige.
In the glossy spring bulb catalogues, eyes are easily drawn to seductive pictures of baby pink daffodil cups. Grow these carefree beauties in your garden and chances are their colours are different from those you saw in the catalogues. In fact, from a distance they even might seem quite orangey.
Does the catalogue camera register overly optimistic colour tones or do we home gardeners fail to satisfy special needs of elusive pink daffodils? There is more than one answer to this question!
Of course, the camera and the printing could have been somewhat manipulated, but there is also another variable playing an important role in daffodil colouring: The breeder of the bulbs might have a (micro) climate different from ours. To put it simply, pink hues over here might differ from pink hues over there. Too much or too little sun will affect colouring. Many of the pink daffodils seem to be pinkest in areas with bright morning sun or dappled shade all through the day. Furthermore, these hybrids are also highly variable in another way. Most flowers need to mature, fade you might say, in order to show their pinkness to the fullest.
Around 14,000 daffodil hybrids have been registered (Narcissus is the botanical species name, daffodil the common name). Of these, 2,000 are more or less pink! Within the 12 official Narcissus categories (Divisions), most pink daffodils fit into Division 2 (large cups, height 45 to 50 centimetres; zones 3-8). Real novelty daffodils don’t come cheap. It takes a breeder about five years to develop a new hybrid, then three to four years more to monitor its progress and after yet another six to seven years some 20-plus bulbs of a new variety can be marketed! Notwithstanding the hefty price of new specimens, daffodil connoisseurs all over the world eagerly scout fall catalogues from specialty breeders such as Oregon’s Grant Mitsch and Northern Ireland’s Brian Duncan.
The American Daffodil Society and The Royal Horticultural Society have presented awards to two widely available pink daffodil hybrids: ‘Accent’ and ‘Salome.’
While I would call the frilly cups of long-lasting ‘Accent’ non-fading apricot rather than pink, this upright hybrid is an indestructible naturalizer. ‘Salome’ is either beloved or despised! Also a tough naturalizer, her petals are pure white, the colour of her long, funnel-like cup starts out apricot-peach and then changes to a faint hue that some call old rose. I, irreverently, would call it beige, dirty almost.
Other examples of easily obtainable and reasonably priced pink daffodils are ‘Chinese Coral’ and (French grammar, anyone?) ‘Mon Cherie’ (both with broad, creamy petals, large apricot cups with ruffled edges; good naturalizers), ‘Rosy Cloud’ (a frilly, double, late-spring bloomer, usually described as very pink; in my garden, however, it shows pale pink-coral; after one very wet early spring, its heavy flowers could not open, they had sadly rotted) and double trumpet ‘Petit Four’ (peachy, very frilly, naturalizes well).
My prize for the deepest red-pink daffodil goes to a creation by Mitsch Daffodils: ‘Catalyst,’ featuring a long, brilliant cup and large, white petals.
Division 5, called Triandrus, includes hybrids ‘Akepa’ and its delightful younger relative ‘Swift Current.’ Within Division 7 (Jonquil) we have ‘Bell Song,’ an excellent performer in my beds but perhaps not hardy in colder areas.
The magnificent Split-corona (Division 11) hybrids feature excellent specialties such as the red-pink ruffled ‘Shrike’ and the more baby-pink ‘Pink Formal.’ Many catalogues offer the intriguing, much paler, ‘Palmares,’ reportedly the first pink Split-corona on the market.
All told, choose something different this fall and let carefree pinkish trumpets announce your next growing season!
Writer Ingeborg van Driel has a passion for easy-care plants and natural-looking spaces, both of which are reflected in her Cobble Hill garden.