3 Standout Types of Poeticus Daffodils

Written by Jennifer Haase
Updated: June 7, 2023
© Marinodenisenko/Shutterstock.com
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Highly fragrant poeticus daffodils have unique coloring compared to other daffodil types like trumpets and jonquils. Though there might be fewer poeticus cultivars than some other varieties, the available plants are worth the hunt for every bulb. Fortunately, we’ve made that hunt easier by featuring three standout types of poeticus daffodils sure to shine if provided the right growing conditions.

Also called poet’s or pheasant’s eye daffodils, poeticus varieties are showy spring flowers that usually thrive in moist to wet soil. This trait is one of several that make them different than other daffodils. So, be sure to skim through the important growing tips for poeticus daffodils after checking out the gorgeous cultivars below.

Narcissus poeticus (daffodil)
Poeticus daffodils usually have white petals and yellow cups with red or orange rims. They’re also very fragrant!

©Kristjan Malacic/Shutterstock.com

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What Are Poeticus Daffodils?

The beautiful poeticus or poet’s daffodil has been featured in literature, mythology, and art for centuries. For example, the goddess Persophone is gathering poet’s daffodils when she is captured by Hades in a famous story from Greek Mythology.

In addition to their poetic and artistic symbolism, poeticus daffodils have special traits used to classify them.

Daffodils are categorized into 13 divisions, and poeticus daffodils belong to division #9. According to the guidelines made official by the Royal Horticultural Society, the following traits identify poeticus daffodils:

  • Short or disc-shaped cups (also called coronas)
  • Two lengths of anthers
  • Cups with yellow, green, or chartreuse centers with a red-orange rim
  • Cups that grow one-fifth the length of the flower petals or less
  • All-white petals (also called perianth segments)
  • Very fragrant plants

Now that you know how to identify a poeticus daffodil, take a look at three standout varieties you could grow yourself!

'Actaea' Poeticus Daffodil
The award-winning ‘Actaea’ poeticus daffodil loves lots of sunshine and wet soil.

©Erkki Makkonen/Shutterstock.com

1. Narcissus ‘Actaea’

Botanical Name: Narcissus ‘Actaea’

Common Names: ‘Actaea’ daffodil, ‘Actaea’ poet’s daffodil

Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Flowering Seasons: Mid to Late spring

Bloom Color: White petals and golden yellow cups with red rims

Awards: John and Gertrude Wister Award – The American Daffodil Society, Award of Garden Merit – The Royal Horticultural Society

‘Actaea’ is a type of poeticus daffodil that loves lots of sunshine and wet soil. So this is the perfect plant for garden plots that don’t drain as quickly as others. Once they break through that moist soil, ‘Actaea’ will reward you with its brilliantly white blossoms and tiny red-rimmed gold cups.

The ‘Actaea’ poeticus daffodil provides flowers in mid to late spring and grows 1-2 feet tall. You can also expect one 3-inch bloom per stem.

Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus daffodil
The Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus daffodil also goes by the common name pheasant’s eye daffodil.

©Emily Goodwin/Shutterstock.com

2. Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus

Botanical Name: Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus

Common Names: Recurvus daffodil, pheasant’s eye daffodil, recurvus poet’s daffodil

Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Flowering Seasons: Late Spring

Bloom Color: White petals and yellow cups with red rims

Awards: Award of Garden Merit – The Royal Horticultural Society

Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus – or pheasant’s eye daffodil – is a poeticus variety that produces its blooms late in spring. This beauty grows 1-2 feet tall and has a heavenly floral scent. It also has the signature coloring of many poeticus daffodils of white petals and golden cups rimmed with red.

Recurvus is a Latin word meaning curved back, which describes the shape of this daffodil’s petals. Thus, you can usually identify a recurvus daffodil from other poeticus varieties by its recurved pure white petals.

Like the ‘Actaea’ cultivar, N. poeticus var. recurvus prefers wetter soil that holds its moisture for prolonged periods. So keep that fact in mind if you’re planting this poet’s daffodil in containers because potted plants need to be watered more often.

'Sea Green' Poeticus Daffodils
‘Sea Green’ poeticus daffodils have yellow cups with green centers and orange rims.

©Sergey V Kalyakin/Shutterstock.com

3. Narcissus ‘Sea Green’

Botanical Name: Narcissus ‘Sea Green’

Common Names: ‘Sea Green’ daffodil, ‘Sea Green’ poet’s daffodil

Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Flowering Seasons: Late Spring

Bloom Color: White petals, yellow and green cups with orange rims

Awards: Award of Garden Merit – The Royal Horticultural Society

The ‘Sea Green’ cultivar is a type of poeticus daffodil with a green center inside its golden yellow cups. This poet’s daffodil also has bright white petals, and its tiny trumpets have striking orange rims.

Sometimes called a green-eyed daffodil, the ‘Sea Green’ is special for its unique coloring as well as its pleasing clove-like scent. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, this is also a bulbous and clump-forming cultivar that naturalizes with little effort. For this reason, give this and other poeticus daffodils plenty of room to spread as they grow.

‘Sea Green’ reaches 1-2 feet tall, produces 2-3 inch flowers, and blooms in late spring.

A grouping of Poeticus Daffodils
Poeticus daffodils need consistently moist soil until the plants die back.


How to Grow Poeticus Daffodils

While many types of daffodils prefer medium-moist and well-draining soil, most poeticus daffodils perform best in wetter growing conditions. So it’s essential to cater to this and other needs of these unique daffodils to enjoy them for many years.

In brief, here are some important steps for growing healthy poeticus daffodils:

  • Plant poeticus daffodil bulbs in the fall for spring growth and blooms.
  • Choose a garden bed or container in a sunny area to help these daffodils thrive.
  • As a general rule, place poeticus daffodil bulbs about 6-8 inches apart in the soil to allow for these clump-forming plants to spread. However, daffodils can be grown closer together if you dig up and separate the bulbs every few years.
  • As with all daffodils, plant the bulbs with the root side down and the pointed side up.
  • Water poeticus daffodils regularly to keep their soil damp to moist. Watch for yellowing leaves, which could indicate that your daffodils are getting too much water. Then, to avoid bulb rot, stop watering them once the plants die back.
  • Lightly fertilize these daffodils when you plant them in autumn and again after their flowers fully mature in summer.
  • Deadhead spent flowers but wait to prune the plants until they die back naturally on their own.

We hope these tips help you enjoy many years of beautiful poeticus daffodils in your garden! Consider planting them alongside other types of daffodils, like cyclamineus varieties that bloom in mid to late spring. And if you want to know what other daffodil options are out there, check out our list of all 13 divisions below.

'Peeping Tom' Cyclamineus Daffodil
The ‘Peeping Tom’ cultivar is a cyclamineus daffodil in division #6.

©Sergey V Kalyakin/Shutterstock.com

What are the other daffodil divisions?

The poeticus daffodil is only one of 13 daffodil divisions. So what are the other divisions used to classify these beloved spring flowers? Here’s a complete list below for quick reference. Then check out our articles about each daffodil division for more info.

All poeticus varieties are standout types of daffodils!

It’s clear that poeticus daffodils are showy, fragrant, and unique. As a result, they’re adored and romanticized in the arts, and they’re definitely admired in the garden.

No matter the type of poeticus daffodil you choose to grow (or paint or write about!), each provides unique color and style with incredible blooms.

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About the Author

I've been a professional writer for over 12 years, specializing in nature themes, including plants and animals. My areas of interest include pets, sea animals, and flowers. Plus, I can't get enough of red pandas and hummingbirds! I also enjoy gardening, nutrition studies, and snuggling with my cats in my spare time.

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