Proof that narcissus has some pests: something bit a chunk out of ‘Minnow’
I found out something at my local nursery that I hadn’t believed possible: some deer will eat narcissus.
I’d always recommended narcissus as the ultimate pest-proof plant: they are poisonous, and apparently that poison makes itself known through its awful taste. I personally had never had any problems with narcissus pests, nor did I know anybody who had.
But as I stood in line with my multiple bulb pots (shamefully late for planting but willing to rely on the kindness of bulbs), I heard the guy behind the counter advising the woman ahead of me. Apparently, some of her daffodils had been disappearing. “It could be deer,” said the man behind the counter.
“I didn’t think deer ate narcissus,” I said, surprised. “I didn’t think anything did.”
“Older deer won’t,” he explained, “but the younger ones who haven’t learned yet – sometimes they’ll eat them.”
The practical change I’ve made since hearing this is to give my narcissus the same deer-discouraging treatment I give most of my plants: enough spraying with Liquid Fence or Deer Off to keep deer at bay most of the time; it’s the best you can hope for, really.
The old belief I lost in that checkout line was more than balanced by the three long-held beliefs it reaffirmed. First: local nurseries are the first place to go for the plants, information, and tools you need to garden well in your own area. Second, never assume you know everything about something, even if you’ve had a lot of experience. (This is a tough one for me.) And the third belief? Happenstance conversations in public places can become illuminating exchanges: what Whitman called “letters from God in the street”.