If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The earth laughs in flowers,” then spring currently has the grounds at Red Butte Garden in stitches. Every year from mid-March through early May, the Garden presents a riotous display of over 500,000 springtime blooming bulbs, more than half of which are daffodils (Narcissus). Most of the 239,000 daffodils peak in April, blanketing the hillsides in their sunny hues. The Garden is home to over 160 cultivars and species of daffodils and is recognized as an official Daffodil Display Garden by the American Daffodil Society

Narcissus ‘Pineapple Prince’; Photo by Jason Baker, Red Butte Garden Horticulturist 

Other blooming bulbs in the Garden include Iris reticulata, Hyacinthus, Anemone, Allium, Eremurus, Fritillaria and many more. “Spring-blooming bulbs are a great asset to any garden design,” says Crystal Kim, garden horticulturist for Red Butte Garden. “They are a colorful and joyful reminder that winter is fading and spring is almost here.” Kim explains that spring bulbs are best planted in the fall to allow for vernalization, meaning exposure to a period of cold. This is essential for spring blooming. Fall planting, however, benefits from spring planning. 

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’; Photo by Jason Baker, Red Butte Garden Horticulturist

“Before you begin planting bulbs next fall, take a look at your garden and decide what you wish to achieve,” Kim suggests. How will the blooms relate to the existing plants in your garden? What kind of soil, drainage and sun exposure do you have? Bloom time may be the most important consideration. Kim explains blooming bulbs are divided into several seasons of bloom, from very early spring through late spring, summer and even fall. By using a combination of bulbs with different flowering times, colors and sizes, it’s possible to create a beautiful display of blooms that lasts from late winter through late fall.

Narcissus ‘Minnow’; Photo by Jason Baker, Red Butte Garden Horticulturist

For those who particularly delight in daffodils, our climate offers ideal growing conditions. “Daffodils are great garden perennials,” Kim says. “They are drought-tolerant and virtually pest-free.” Daffodils require water in the spring while blooming and growing, which is usually satisfied by our typical spring rainfall. Because these bulbs go dormant during summer, they easily tolerate the season’s hot, dry weather. What’s more, Kim explains, daffodils are very cold hardy and actually require a certain amount of cold temperatures to stimulate root and flower development. “If planted correctly, they will multiply and live happily in your garden for many years,” she says. As proven by Red Butte Garden’s bloom-covered grounds, daffodils may be the most surefire way to deliver springtime smiles and laughter to any landscape, perhaps even yours.

Narcissus ‘Itzim’; Photos by Jason Baker, Red Butte Garden Horticulturist

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