Sternbergia lutea – the Winter Daffodil

Sternbergia lutea, the Winter Daffodil, is part of the Amaryllidaceae family and grows in the North Walk island beds in the Parks. These are bulbous perennials with strap-like leaves. They are often confused with autumn-flowering crocuses, but an easy way to distinguish the two is by looking at the arrangement of stamens – the little pollen-bearing stalks at the centre of each flower. Crocuses have fluffy stamens whereas Winter Daffodils have singular, straight ones. They are providing a bright show in the borders now and will keep flowering for a couple more weeks. They grow to around 15cm tall and love a sheltered spot in full sun, although ours also tolerate a little partial shade. The plants need a sharply drained soil, though, and really dislike wet soil. They can be planted about 15cm deep in the late summer. Generally they are trouble-free and only need the dead foliage removing once it has fully browned off. Ideal for a splash of colour in the front of a sunny border; you can propagate them from ripe seeds with moderate heat. For more information, see the RHS website.

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