Daffodils are cheery, yellow, early—but not sniff-worthy. Right? Wrong. Meet ‘Thalia’, one of many daffodil cultivars known for having a lovely fragrance. In addition to being perfumed, ‘Thalia’ runs counter to the daffodil stereotype by being not yellow but pure white. The small, bell-shaped flowers, with slightly reflexed petals, bloom March to May, depending on climate. Each short stem carries one to three gracefully nodding blossoms. This elegant beauty will slowly naturalize in the right spot, and it is usually ignored by both squirrels and deer.
Common name: ‘Thalia’ daffodil, triandrus daffodil
Botanical name: Narcissus ‘Thalia’
Plant type: Bulb
Zones: 3 to 8
Height: 12 to 18 inches
• Sun: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Average, well-drained
• Moisture: Average
• Mulch: Mulch to retain moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: None needed. If your soil is poor, add organic fertilizer or compost in the fall.
• By bulb division
Pests and diseases
• Not vulnerable to most pests.
• If drainage is poor, bulbs may rot.
• Grow ‘Thalia’ near a path or patio, where you can enjoy its perfume.
• ‘Thalia’ does well in rock gardens and at the front of the border.
• You can also plant ‘Thalia’ under deciduous trees. It will flower in the spring, before the tree’s leaves fill out. If you’ve got grass under your tree, just plant through it. But be prepared to hold off on the season’s first mowing until the foliage dies back. That way, the leaves have a chance to gather energy for the next year’s growth before they’re cut down.
• Plant bulbs in the fall, 3 to 5 inches deep.
• ‘Thalia’ is a good cut flower and a good bulb for forcing.
• Plant ‘Thalia’ with grape muscari for a lovely color combination. Or combine it with other spring bulbs.
All in the family
• From about 50 species in the genus Narcissus (originally from Europe and North Africa) have come hundreds of daffodil cultivars. They’re divided into 13 groups, based primarily on the shape of their blooms. ‘Thalia’ is a triandrus daffodil, meaning it has two to six nodding flowers on each stem.
• Other familiar garden flowers in the amaryllis family include rain lilies, belladonna lilies, spider lilies, and, of course, amaryllis (Hippeastrum hybrids).
Other fragrant daffodil cultivars include:
• ‘Actaea’—red-rimmed cup and large, rounded, white petals
• ‘Baby Moon’—a golden-yellow miniature
• ‘Cheerfulness’—a double daffodil with yellow centers and white petals
• ‘Geranium’—orange cups, white petals
• ‘Hawera’—pale yellow with swept-back petals
• ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’—double, all-yellow
• ‘Silver Chimes’—cream-white flowers
• ‘Trevithian’—deep yellow
Where to buy
• Old House Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI, 734-995-1486, www.oldhousegardens.com
• Tulips.com, Mount Vernon, WA, 866-488-5477, www.tulips.com
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Narcissus ‘Thalia’ courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening)