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Carlton (Narcissus Carlton) daffodil bulbs are a large-cupped, classic two-toned yellow cultivar that does well in most conditions.
Its big, tall flowers emerge early and last well on their strong stems. On its own or in our Naturalising Mix, this deer-proof daffodil is superbly suited to mass planting and naturalisation in lawns, borders, wooded areas and containers. It has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit and is widely used as a cut flower.
Plant bulbs in autumn (August-November) at one-and-a-half to two times their own depth, in sun or partial shade. They can be planted in clumps: but not closely or flowering may be inhibited. Spacing of around 10-15cm is ideal. Bulbs may need thinning in subsequent years to maintain a good show.
Daffodils tolerate a wide range of soils and pH from clay to chalk, loam, and sand. Do avoid over-watering and waterlogged soils for best results - they can be prone to bulb rot in wet conditions.
The flowers give a massed display of bright yellow in early spring; 'Carlton' is one of the earliest daffodils of all. Deadheading can be done when the flowers are finished, but its best if the leaves are allowed to die back naturally without cutting. This allows time for the bulbs to store up nutrients to feed the flowers in the following year. Carlton is just one of our huge range of daffodils and narcissi.
Carlton is robust and not known to be susceptible to many problems, although they can suffer from bulb rot in waterlogged soil. Daffodil sap can be a skin irritant, so handle all Narcissus with care.
When mixing with other cut flowers, the daffodils should be kept in water on their own for twelve hours first, as the sap can also cause other flowers to wilt.
Narcissus 'Carlton' is surely the most famous daffodil of plantsman Percival D. Williams, who raised it in Cornwall in 1927.
Ten years later The American Horticultural Society's The American Daffodil Year Book carried an article by Guy L. Wilson, who wrote: "Carlton will appeal to those who like size, though very large its soft clear yellow flowers, with their wide gracefully frilled crowns, are quite well balanced, it is a plant of immense vigor and rapid increase, making hard healthy bulbs."
Nearly 100 years on, it holds an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS, which describes this variety as being 'famously reliable for large-scale planting'. Being robust, showy, and long-lived, they are popular in the cut flower trade as well as for garden and landscape planting.
But there is more to this variety than meets the eye. 'Carlton' is our main plant source of galanthamine, which is a valuable alkaloid used in the early treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological illnesses. 'Carlton' also produces the alkaloids haemanthamine and narciclasine, both of which have shown potential in anticancer drug development.
In Wales it's been discovered that the bulb produces more galanthamine when cultivated above 1000 feet, making the Brecons the perfect region for this new enterprise. The world market price per kilogram of this plant extract is roughly the same as that for gold, so this a flower of fortune for the nation that has taken it as their national symbol.