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Ask the Gardeners Q&A

By Doc and Katy Abraham / October 22, 1985



Q While my neighbor was helping me put in some hardy spring-flowering bulbs along our mutual property line, she corrected me when I referred to daffodils as the name encompassing all narcissus and jonquils. She says they are all narcissus, and daffodils and jonquils are only types of narcissus. (Or is it narcissi?) B. J. N. Long Island City, N.Y. Your neighbor is correct. They are all of the genus Narcissus. Daffodil is correctly applied to the large trumpet types. Jonquil should be applied only to certain species called Narcissus jonquilla. There are 11 main divisions of narcissus. Jonquil is Division 7; daffodil is Division 1. There are spectacular variations in each division, so plant and enjoy them. The American Daffodil Society has voted to choose the name narcissus for both sin- gular and plural, eliminating the term ``narcissi.'' Q While visiting in California I bought some Jacobean lily bulbs. They are described on the label as ``crimson orchid amaryllis.'' The directions make no mention of hardiness, but say to plant six inches deep in loose, fertile soil, in a sunny spot. Now I'm wondering if they can be planted like tulips and daffodils, in fall, or must I wait until spring? D. S. Rockford, Ill.

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You have Sprekelia formosissima. They are sometimes called Amaryllis formosissima, since they are in the Amaryllis family and are grown much like regular amaryllis. In your area, you can either pot them up for an indoor late winter or early spring show, or you can store bulbs in a cool room (not below freezing) and plant outdoors when danger of frost is over. This bulbous herb is indigenous to Mexico, and is also called Aztec lily.

If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.