Narcissus Flowers: Meaning, Symbolism, and Proper Occasions
Nothing showcases the arrival of spring like a garden of bright, cheerful narcissus flowers in full bloom. Aside from being beautiful, these blooms have a rich history and deep symbolic meaning that makes them a timeless option for gift-giving.
In this article, we’ll cover the meaning, symbolism, and proper occasions of narcissus flowers.
Let’s dig in!
Narcissus Flowers: The History
Narcissus flowers is a colloquial term that refers to the Narcissus genus. This genus is home to daffodils and jonquils. These flowers are known for their bright colors and trumpet shape.
Narcissus and Echo
The narcissus flower is also known for its place in Greek and Roman mythology. In the story of Narcissus and Echo, Narcissus is a beautiful young man born to a river God and nymph. He is haughty and standoffish, returning admiration and affection to no one.
A nymph called Echo falls in love with Narcissus. She is cursed with the ability to only repeat what someone else says, not her own words. Narcissus casts her off, cruelly. This part of the story is omitted in some versions.
Narcissus then leans down to a river to get a drink of water and sees his reflection, with which he falls deeply in love. He tried to pull his reflection from the water and was unable to. Unwilling to leave his newfound love, he withered and died by the water.
In some versions, Narcissus is intentionally turned into a flower. In others, Echo covers him with her hair as she weeps over his body. When the shroud of hair is removed, a flower blooms where his body used to lie.
While versions of the story vary slightly, the platitude is the same: self-obsession is one’s greatest downfall. Sigmund Freud later used this story to coin the term “narcissist.”
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Daffodils, all species of which are a part of the Narcissus genus, are a central theme in one of the most famous English poems of all time: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth.
The daffodils in this poem have evolved to become significant among Caribbean cultures, as this poem was often taught by colonizers. As such, they strike a negative tone among Trinidadians and other Caribbean natives who associate these flowers with colonization.
Narcissus Flowers: Meaning and Symbolism
While the name has negative connotations, many of the symbolic meanings of narcissus flowers are pleasant and inspiring.
Narcissus flowers symbolize rebirth and renewal and are often associated with the return of spring after a long winter.
These hardy flowers also represent resilience and perseverance, as they’re known for their long lifespan and the ability to bloom in adversity.
In China, narcissus flowers represent prosperity and good fortune, especially when they bloom on Chinese New Year. However, white flowers are associated with death, so choose yellow blooms when celebrating this occasion.
Narcissus flowers (daffodils, in particular) are often used in cancer awareness campaigns and fundraisers as a symbol of hope. This representation also goes with the perseverance and resilience these blooms symbolize. The University of Bath is exploring the potential benefits of using organic compounds from these flowers in cancer treatments.
Narcissus Flowers: Proper Occasions
Narcissus flowers are a great gift for celebrations of new beginnings, such as Easter, the birth of a baby, or for someone who is taking a big step in life.
These flowers also make a symbolic gift for someone battling cancer. However, most people experiencing cancer would benefit more from direct financial support or healthcare items.
Narcissus flowers are also the March birth month flower and 10th wedding anniversary flower, making them perfect for these events.
Narcissus Flowers: Growth Tips
Narcissus flowers grow best in USDA Zones 5-9. They thrive in full sunlight and need plenty of space to grow and produce offsets.
Water regularly during the spring, stopping when the petals fall. Unlike most flowers, narcissus flowers experience a dormancy period during the summer. Provide well-draining soil to prevent bulb or root rot.
Narcissus flowers are perennials and will come back every year with proper care. Deadhead your plants after the first frost to promote next year’s growth.
Don’t be surprised to see these eager blooms pop up during an unseasonably warm winter period. If you live in a place with extremely cold winters, consider adding a layer of mulch or straw for protection.
Is Narcissus Toxic?
Narcissus flowers are toxic to pets and people, especially the bulbs where the toxins are highly concentrated. Keep this in mind when cutting fresh flowers or planting bulbs around dogs who like to dig.