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Daffodils – Miniature Daffodils – Tete a Tete – A Flower Border Must-Have

By the time you see the classic harbingers of spring — daffodils — in late winter you know that the earth is awakening and spring is almost upon us.

Daffodils are probably one of the first bulbs to go in any flower garden or flower border not only because of the pleasure and delight they bring in late winter — but because they’re so easy and require very little care.

The big flowered daffodils are the most popular — but if I had known when I first planted them what I know now about the habits of daffodils I would have limited my tall “big flowered daffodils” to a small area — and I would have chosen the miniature daffodil – Tete a Tete — to go everywhere else.

They have all the good traits of the big boys — and more.

Tete a Tete is an early bloomer and very long lasting.  In my borders they start the first week of March and continue into April.

Each of it’s strong 8 to 11 inch stems that resist toppling over in wind hold one to three blooms just above the leaves. The miniature blooms are beautiful and abundant with petals of lemon yellow and trumpet that is deeper yellow/gold.

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These miniature daffodils bloom profusely and are said to look much like their wild parent, Narcissus Cyclamineus — thought to now be extinct.

Why I consider them a brighter Star

Like their bigger cousins Tete a Tete bulbs are fed by their foliage. Thus, foliage cannot be cut after the blossoms fade but must be allowed to yellow and die back on its own.

The big flowered daffodils with their 12 to 18 inch leaves end their cycle at a time almost all the other perennials are looking new and fresh.  It always bothers me that these huge clumps of daffodil foliage are there to spoil an otherwise perfect view of a green and beautiful spring border. And it always takes longer than I would prefer for them to diminish into the ground until next year.

This is where the miniature daffodils – Tete a Tete – shine brighter than the others. Their short green foliage seems to me to stay green longer and blend with other plants in my borders and then without my noticing it — they’re gone and dormant for another year.

Unconventional Advice for Planting

Daffodils should be planted in the fall — at least that’s what I’ve always read.  Anytime I’ve purchased bulbs — the fall is when I plant.  I don’t do that with Tete a Tete bulbs that come from my border and here’s why:

From the first year that my newly acquired 10 bulbs produced blooms, I decided I wanted them everywhere.  As we’ve discussed above — the bulbs go dormant after the foliage dies back and I know only generally (rather than exactly) where I would have to dig to unearth the bulbs.

My solution to the problem:— Every year I transplant some bulbs right after bloom finishes. And yes, I’m sure if you asked an “expert” they would definitely say that this will set back the bloom of that bulb next spring.  And that might be true — although I didn’t find the different between my fall planted originals and my spring planted bulbs — all that different. And in the long run it doesn’t matter anyway.

Here’s what I do.

  • With a shovel I gently unearth my largest clump.
  • Gently separate the bulbs keeping the foliage intact as much as possible.
  • Place in a tray or flat for easy carrying as you move from place to place to plant.
  • Plant each bulb (with its foliage) wherever you want it.

Various other Notes

My first Tete a Tetes were purchased more than a decade ago.  They’ve bloomed more profusely every year.  If they ever stop blooming — I’ll just separate the clumps — but I probably won’t have to concern myself with that for many years.

Use your imagination and plant them anywhere. Breathtaking in mass.  Or a few clumps to accent or outline a bed. Would be outstanding in an area by a pond.

It’s interesting to note that these miniature daffodils are used as the birth month flower for March and also for 10 year wedding anniversaries.  They’re a great cut flower for arrangements and if you have an event in March you can certainly enhance it with these little flowers of late winter and early spring.

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Most everything else in the border says winter — except these miniature daffodils.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a new gardener — I hope you’ll make these miniature daffodils the ones you plant first.  You’ll never regret it.

If you’re a seasoned gardener and still without these wildflower-like daffodils, I hope you won’t let another year pass before you plant them.  To draw from the idea expressed by William Wordsworth  — When you see a host of these golden miniature blooms in your borders,  your heart will fill pleasure and dance with the daffodils.

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6 comments to Daffodils – Miniature Daffodils – Tete a Tete – A Flower Border Must-Have

  • Carol Speake

    HI Theresa,

    I did not know about these mini daffodils. I have large clumps on the larger ones but will be on the lookout for these next fall!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Carol

  • Theresa

    You’ll really love these Carol!

  • Sandra

    I love these too, Theresa. I always admire them in other peoples gardens. Another advantage of being able to plant them after blooming, is that you often see them marked down after Easter when they are starting to fade. Now that I know I can plant them successfully, I’m pretty sure, I can pick up some when they are on sale.

  • Theresa

    Even if you pay regular price for them — it’s not that much and you only need a few bulbs and patience. They multiply quickly, Sandra and before you know it you have a yard or border full.

  • Irene Parker

    Why do I think that the bulbs, if left in the ground will produce larger plants more like their bigger relations. Is this true or can you assure me that they will still be miniatures year after year.

  • Theresa

    Irene, I don’t know why you think that.
    If you plant bulbs of big daffodils you continue to get big daffodils.
    If you plant tete a tete – you get tete a tet — which is a small flower.
    Theresa

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