Narcissus - Flowers - Featured Content - Lovingly (2024)

The Meaning of Narcissus

What’s the narcissus flower meaning? Paperwhite Narcissus flowers and the daffodil flower (or yellow narcissus flowers) are extremely similar blooms, so it makes sense that a lot of their meanings overlap, too!

Some popular paperwhite narcissus flower meanings are:

  • Prosperity and wealth, especially in the future
  • March birthdays, as the birth flower of the month
  • The arrival of spring
  • Rebirth and renewal
  • Good luck and happiness
  • Future misfortune
  • Narcissism and egotism
  • The austerity and challenges of Lent ( also known as Lent lilies!)
  • Clarity and inspiration
  • The Chinese New Year[1]

A wide variety of narcissus flower symbolism makes for a wide variety of gifts!

The name narcissus is a Greek name that’s been associated with these blooms for thousands of years. Not only is Narcissus the common name, it’s the biological name for about 50 different flower varieties, including all common daffodils.

The name Narcissus hails from the Greek word for narcotic, but is more commonly associated with the Greek mythological figure, Narcissus.

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the young son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope who fell deeply in love with his own reflection. While, yes, it is said that he was immensely beautiful, we can all agree we’re already not off to a super great start.

In fact, his fate was technically written in the sand since his birth. Narcissus’ mother was told by the blind seer Tiresias that he would have a long life, so long as he never recognized himself.

When Narcissus was eventually rejected by the nymph Echo, and went on to fall in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and killed himself.

It’s believed that the narcissus bloom sprang from the ground where he died. [2]

December Birth Flower

These pretty, fragrant beauties make the perfect gift for holidays and December babies—or even for a December newborn’s first flowers.

What Does Narcissus Smell Like?

The scent is reminiscent of jasmine and hyacinth—sweet and heavy. [3]

Narcissus - Flowers - Featured Content - Lovingly (1)

"A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower."

Marianne Williamson

The History of the Narcissus

Native to the Western Mediterranean, Narcissus is a part of the Amaryllidaceae family, which is why they may have a similar appearance to the amaryllis bloom. Narcissus has been naturalized in many regions including North America, Asia, and Europe. The name paperwhite came from the bloom’s delicate white petals, which are often described as being as thin as a piece of paper.

The Paperwhite Narcissus is also the oldest and most widely distributed genus within the Narcissus genus, making it among the most popular flowering bulbs in the world.

Since Paperwhites can bloom in the winter, these festive blooms are sometimes associated with Christmas and the Chinese New Year. They arrived in China during the Late Sung period, about 1,000 years ago, probably introduced by Arab traders. So versatile!

Due to its strong fragrance, paperwhites have been used in perfumes—however, each part of the paperwhite is poisonous. So be sure to keep them away from pets and children.[4]

The tradition of forcing Paperwhite narcissus in a bowl of gravel filled with water is a Chinese custom. The Chinese name for paperwhites is ‘shuixian,’ meaning “water fairy.”

During the late Victoria period, Chinese art and style was increasing in popularity. Throughout the late 1800s, the Dutch began growing the polyantha narcissus and made many introductions of new hybrids and promoted the idea of forcing these bulbs indoors, as is the Chinese fashion, to Victorian ladies of the day. [5]

Narcissus is also the national flower of Wales.

DID YOU KNOW - Narcissus Fun Fact

As with amaryllis, Paperwhites don’t need a chilling period in order to bloom. [6]

Similar to daffodil bulbs, Paperwhite narcissus bulbs can be planted both indoor and outdoors.

If you’re planning on planting your fresh narcissus plants outdoors:

  • Follow the same rough guidelines for planting most fall bulbs.
  • Ensure your soil is well-drained and your planting spot gets partial sun to full sun.
  • Plant your bulbs 6 inches deep and cover with soil and water to reduce air pockets.
  • Enjoy come early spring!

If you’re planting your paperwhites indoors:

  • You can purchase them in a kit that will come with a pot, soil, and bulbs. If not, be sure you choose a pot with draining-holes and purchase soil suitable to container gardens.
  • Fill your container with your loose and well-drained soil to about ⅓ full.
  • Place the bulbs with the pointed end facing up.
  • Add more soil to the top, leaving the top of the bulb still visible.
  • Add water until you see water coming through the bottom of the pot.
  • Keep the soil slightly damp until sprouts form (be sure to not over-water.)

You can also choose to grow your paperwhites in a decorative vase with stones and water.

Vases specifically designed specifically for forcing bulbs work well since the top of the container will be the perfect size to support the bulb and allow air to flow between the bottom of the bulb and the water.

Many choose tall glass vases with decorative stones or pebbles at the bottom, as you can watch the roots, leaves, stems, and flowers grow.

Unlike other narcissus varieties, paperwhites don’t require a chilling period, so forcing them to bloom indoors is as easy as putting the bulbs in water and waiting for your beautiful blooms to grow.

  • Position the bulbs with the pointed end on top of the layer of stones.
  • Add another layer of stones to fill any gaps and cover the bulbs (leave the pointed tips of the bumps showing).
  • Add water to your containers to just under where you’re bulbs sit.
    • Keeping the bottom of the bulb in water will stimulate root growth, but covering the root entirely can cause root-rot.
  • Keep your growing bulbs in an open location so you can easily keep an eye on the water level.
  • Be sure the water is always touching the base of the bulb.
  • Move your growing bulbs into sunlight when you begin to see roots developing.

One day you’ll look over and see that your narcissus flower bloomed! [7]

DID YOU KNOW - Narcissus Fun Fact

Paperwhite narcissus are the cilantro of the flower world. While some people can’t get enough of their heady fragrance, to others they smell like a cross between dirty socks. [8]

Narcissus - Flowers - Featured Content - Lovingly (3)

How to Care for Narcissus

Paperwhites are popularly grown in a vase for a stunning indoor display throughout the winter season. (Finally, the ultimate long-lasting bloom!)

Here are some tips to help keep your Paperwhites thriving:

  • Keep your plant in a bright spot
  • Keep their water topped up

That’s it – talk about easy.

Narcissus - Flowers - Featured Content - Lovingly (2024)


Narcissus - Flowers - Featured Content - Lovingly? ›

A symbol of faithfulness, good wishes, and respect, Paperwhite narcissus blooms in the winter, making it the perfect birth month flower for December.

What does the narcissus flower represent? ›

Narcissi flowers are also seen to represent; creativity, inspiration, awareness and inner reflection, forgiveness, and vitality. If you give a bunch of narcissi to a loved one it means 'they're the only one' and is said to ensure happiness.

What are the characteristics of a narcissus plant? ›

Narcissus has conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals surmounted by a cup- or trumpet-shaped corona. The flowers are generally white and yellow (also orange or pink in garden varieties), with either uniform or contrasting coloured tepals and corona.

What do daffodils symbolize in love? ›

Quite a difference! Wikipedia suggests that Daffodil are associated with “Regard” but there is also a listing of the Symbolic meaning of flowers in which the daffodil is associated with “Uncertainty”, “Chivalry” “Respect” or “Unrequited love”.

What does narcissus flower smell like? ›

Rich, floral, green, heady: like burying your nose in springtime itself. Or as perfumer Julie Massé explains to The Perfume Society: 'An opulent sensation of green-leaf, or the hissing of hot, wet summer lawns – a strangely intense and yet cool floral. '

What is the deeper meaning of Narcissus? ›

In the narrative, Narcissus's desire to embrace and love his reflection figuratively represents that Narcissus wants to love his real self. On this particular level of interpretation, the reflection represents the real self.

What does Narcissus teach us? ›

Mythology can offer valuable insights into human nature, and the story of Echo and Narcissus is a cautionary tale that rings true even today. Extreme self-love, as what's seen in narcissism, can negatively impact your life and the lives of those around you.

What are the effects of narcissus flower? ›

The bulbs of N. poeticus (Linn.), the POET'S NARCISSUS, are more dangerous than those of the Daffodil, being powerfully emetic and irritant. The scent of the flowers is deleterious, if they are present in any quantity in a closed room, producing in some persons headache and even vomiting.

Why is narcissus turned into a flower? ›

Subjects. Narcissus (1), in mythology, a beautiful youth, son of Cephissus (the Boeotian river) and Liriope, a nymph. He loved no one till he saw his own reflection in water and fell in love with that; finally he pined away, died, and was turned into the flower of like name.

What is the personality of a narcissus? ›

The character of Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a self-centered personality style. This quality in extreme contributes to the definition of narcissistic personality disorder, a psychiatric condition marked by grandiosity, excessive need for attention and admiration, and an inability to empathize.

What flower symbolizes love and affection? ›

Rose. A rose simply represents love, so it's the most classic choice for Valentine's day.

What flower brings love? ›

Sending Valentine's Day flowers is a well-trodden path, so make your gift feel personal by choosing the perfect bouquet for your partner. Red roses are arguably the most romantic flowers, but many others also symbolise love, from lilies to lisianthuses.

What is the favorite flower for love? ›

Tulips (Red or Purple)

The tulip is a romantic flower, whose strongest symbolic associations are with love and creativity. However, red and purple are the most romantic tulip colors by far. Red tulips signal a declaration of love.

Are narcissus toxic? ›

Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression.

What birth flowers are narcissus? ›

The narcissus is the December birth flower and symbolizes good wishes, faithfulness and respect. The narcissus can often be confused with the daffodil, the…

What is the difference between a daffodil and narcissus? ›

Daffodil is the common name for spring-flowering bulbs in the genus Narcissus, of which there are over 50 species. One species, Narcissus jonquilla has its own common name, jonquil. When in doubt, you can never go wrong by calling any of these flowers “narcissus,” since they are all in that genus.

Why is Persephone symbol a Narcissus flower? ›

Narcissus in Greek Mythology

Narcissus dies and is reborn as a plant, and that plant is associated with Persephone, who collects it on the way to the Underworld (Hades). She must spend six months of the year underground, which results in the changing season.

What is the myth of Narcissus flower? ›

In both Ovid's and Pausanias' versions of Narcissus, Narcissus dies by a pool gazing at his own reflection that he falls in love with. He has no concern about anything around him nor does he eat or sleep. He takes his last dying breath by himself and dies by the image that he will never have but so badly desires.

What does the Narcissus flower tattoo mean? ›

December birth flower tattoos include narcissus tattoos and holly tattoos. Narcissus tattoos symbolize hope and rebirth.

What does the pink Narcissus symbolize? ›

Pink narcissus meaning

Pink blooms carry symbolic significance tied to femininity, tenderness, and grace. Furthermore, pink narcissi convey sentiments of gratitude and affectionate love. Meanwhile, flowers donning a livelier, red shade are emblematic of passion, energy, and strength.

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