Most narcissus grow as far north as upper New York state, the Great Lakes and along the east coast into New England (zone 4). They are comfortable where winter temperatures seldom dip below -10 to -20°F. In warmer southern climates, bulbs should be purchased pre-chilled. However, some, such as paperwhites, actually insist on warmer more southern climates (zone 6) and are enjoyed by northerners only indoors.
Locating And Planting Narcissus
Plant narcissus in a sunny location by mid-October, or at least a month or more before the ground freezes so that they have time to develop roots. Since they need sun for just a few weeks in the spring, beneath deciduous trees that have not yet developed their leaves at narcissus bloom time is a good location. Flowers will need at least half a day of sunlight. Soil drainage is very important. Like most bulbs, narcissus dislike wet, clayey soils. Build their beds higher than the surrounding soil surface and add lots of organic matter (such as sand, chopped leaves, or peat moss) to promote drainage. The soil should be slightly acidic (pH 6.0 to 6.5). If possible, loosen it to 1 foot deep when preparing the bed for planting.
Plant bulbs of regular sized narcissus from 6 to 9 inches, dwarf types 4 to 6 inches, deep. Measure the depth from the bottom of the hole. For best display plant them in groups of 3 or more, spaced 4 or 5 inches apart. Point the bulbs' growing tips right-side-up and press their rounded bottoms into the soil, using a slight twisting motion to assure good soil contact for the root plate. Fill the hole with soil and cover the bed with mulch to protect it from heaving due to temperature fluctuations during the winter.