Fall is not just the time to think about harvesting pumpkins and preparing the garden for winter. Fall’s cooler temperatures are the perfect time to plant bulbs that will give blooms the next spring and many more springs to come.
The Narcissus ‘Plant America’ daffodil is available to the public this year. In 2018 Brent and Becky’s Bulbs obtained a new daffodil cultivar for the National Garden Clubs (NGC). The bulb was sold to NGC members exclusively for three years. Brent and Becky’s Bulbs donated a portion of the sales to the Plant America Community Project Grants Program, which started in 2017.
Brent Heath is a daffodil hybridizer, but he did not hybridize this daffodil. He selected it on a trip to Holland, in April 2018, when he was visiting his friends and colleagues, the Hulsebosch Brothers, who specialize in growing organic bulbs in a sustainable manner. Brent has several criteria for choosing a new cultivar. First, he observes how it looks growing in the field, as that translates to how it looks growing in a garden. Then he looks for an upward facing blossom that is held above the foliage.
While still standing with Brent in the field in Holland, after choosing this cultivar for the NGC, the grower received a call on his cell phone from Thompson and Morgan, the United Kingdom company that sells plants and seeds. This company wanted to acquire this new cultivar. The grower told them they were five minutes too late, as Brent had just selected it for his company.
The next step in the process was to select a name for the daffodil. Even though the initial plan was to name it N. ‘National Garden Clubs’, Brent advised that N. ‘Plant America’ would have more appeal when the daffodil became available to the public.
A search was done in the database of named daffodils to be sure the name was not already in use. Then the name, photographs, and description were submitted to the Royal Horticultural Society, which is the International Registration Authority for the genus Narcissus. The registration was approved in June 2018.
N. ‘Plant America’ is a split corona daffodil. The yellow perianth segments of this mid-season flower fold back smoothly over its white petals. It has a strong stem and a nice thick substance for upward-facing, long-lasting flowers. It grows best in full sun to a height of 12-16 inches, depending on the soil richness.
Besides being daffodil hybridizers, Brent and Becky Heath are flower bulb suppliers, garden writers, photographers, lecturers, consultants, and educators. Brent’s grandfather began growing daffodils in 1900 in Gloucester, VA, where their company is located. Brent’s knowledge and credentials in hybridizing and growing daffodils is extensive.
2021 is the first year that the N. ‘Plant America’ daffodil bulb is available for purchase by the general public, however, NGC clubs may want to consider selling this bulb as a fundraiser. Many clubs participate in the Bloomin’ Bucks program, which donates 25 percent of sales from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs back to the garden club. The company has a print catalog and a website to take online orders.
Brent Heath’s philosophy is “plant bulbs and harvest smiles.” The NGC’s message is: “PLANT AMERICA in the fall with ‘Plant America’ daffodils and harvest smiles.”
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