Practical Permaculture – Daffodils and Hosta


One of my favorite places to plant daffodils is at the bottom of signs, the metal post creates a barrier preventing people from trampling them – Whitney Avenue – Spring 2012

My girlfriend and I were asked to clerk the Hosta show in the Summer of 2012 for the Daffodil and Hosta Society of Western PA, basically we were assistants to the judges. This was such an eye-opening experience, we joined immediately following our commitment.  My first daffodil show clerking experience was supposed to happen on April 6th, thanks to our late winter the show had to be cancelled… That is why I decided to write this article…

The reference book of cultivars used by the judges resembles a three ringed phone book, including specifics like cultivar name, color, pattern and mature size… In this world… Pin holes matter…

Many of the plant societies in America are experiencing membership issues, all to often they are plagued with misconceptions that the people involved are stuck up plant snobs, a misconception which honestly couldn’t be further from the truth… They are plant lovers like us… They come together to discuss a specific plant… And most importantly they share that information… And in most cases… Share the plant…

I think I should start this off by explaining why in the hell daffodils and Hostas are teamed up in a society together, that was my first question, why in the hell wouldn’t it be yours…The answer is actually brilliantly simple… Daffodils come up early in spring and bloom through late spring, the Hosta begin to grow in late spring and cover the spent daffodils. One of the requirements of growing healthy bulbs from year to year is letting the plants whither away on their own, the energy it absorbs after flowering is directly related to the bulbs ability to over winter and flower the following year.


Miss Lorna loves her daffodils as well, Whitney Avenue – April 2011

Narcissus – Daffodil

Narcissus is a genus of mainly hardy, mostly spring-flowering perennial bulbs in the Amaryllis family. Common names include daffodil, narcissus, and jonquil are used to describe the genus.

The name Narcissus is frequently linked to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who became so obsessed with his own reflection that he knelt and gazed into a pool of water, he eventually fell into that water and drowned. In some variations, he died of starvation and thirst. In both versions, the narcissus plant grew from where he died.

Daffodils are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, this is important in attracting pollinators to the early season garden. Daffodils and fruit trees tend to coincide with blooming times, with daffodil commonly blooming a little before the fruit trees… This early blooming tends to put the area on the map for the beneficials… If they found pollen around your fruit tree once before than they are much more likely to return for more only to find a fruit tree in full bloom…

All Narcissus species contain the alkaloid poison lycorine, mostly in the bulb but also in the leaves. May 1st, 2009 a number of schoolchildren fell ill at a primary school in England, after a daffodil bulb was added to soup during a cooking class. The bulbs can apparently be confused with onions, thereby leading to incidents of accidental poisoning. One of the most common dermatitis problems for florists is daffodil itch, some cultivars are known to be a little more irritating than others… Gloves should typically be worn, especially if you have sensitive skin.

"Paradigm" Hosta

“Paradigm” Hosta


Hosta is a genus of 23 – 45 species of plants commonly known as hostas, plantain lilies and occasionally by the Japanese name giboshi. Hostas are cultivated as shade-tolerant foliage plants. The genus is currently placed in the asparagus family. Like many monocots, the genus was once classified as a lily.Depending on who you ask there are between 4,000 and 40,000 cultivars of Hosta, with the actual number falling somewhere in the middle.

Hostas are edible by humans, the part eaten and the manner of preparation differ depending on species… In some cases it is the shoots… Others the leaf petiole… And others the entire leaf… Younger parts are generally prefered as being more tender than older parts… The flowers are also edible…

Hosta can survive in heavy shade and are also rather drought tolerant plants, I commonly recommend them under pine trees… As long as you water a hosta through the first year of establishment, it will survive just about anything nature can throw at it… Hosta also tend to have pretty strong root systems, because of this they can be handy plants for use as erosion control. 

A potexvirus called Hosta Virus X has become common recently, and plants that are infected must be destroyed as the disease can be transmitted from plant to plant by contaminated sap. Symptoms include dark green “ink bleed” marks in the veins of yellow-colored leaves, and/or tissue collapse between veins. It can take years for symptoms to show, so symptom free plants in infected batches should also be considered infected.

I think it is important to stress that as permaculturists our horizons need to spread much further than food… All plants work in harmony… Your tomato may rely on the bee from my petunia… A fruit tree benefits from the water retention provided from a ground covering hosta, the hosta benefits from the shade provided by the fruit tree… Harmony people…

peace – chriscondello

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