Daffodils,Narcissus species, are quite easy to grow, but there are a few things you can do to insure that the bulbs you plant produce a dazzling display of spring bloom year after year.
- Be sure you plant your bulbs in a place that gets enough sunshine. Daffodils like at least part sun to bloom well. If they have orange or pink colorations they prefer part day sunshine to full sun, but they will not bloom if they are planted in too much shade. If your daffodil bulbs aren’t blooming this is the first factor to check.
- Daffodils are wonderful multipliers under normal circumstances, which means you easily will have plenty of flowers, but it can also mean they get crowded and need division. If you have a plethora of leaves and few flowers, it is time to dig up your stand of bulbs to divide and replant. You can replant right away or dry the bulbs and store them over summer (my mom used those mesh bags they sell apples or oranges in) and plant in the fall. If you lift and store, keep them in a cool, shady place- my mother hung the bag in the garage away from the light.
- Being long lived plants, Narcissus can use some feeding. I like to plant the bulbs initially with some handfuls of bone meal dug into the bottom of the planting hole or trench. Every so often it is a good idea to give them a 5-10-10 formulation of fertilizer. The initial number is small because you don’t want large amounts of nitrogen- that would produce more leaves; typically bone meal has a high middle number (phosphorus) which promotes rooting and setting flower buds.
- Leave the leaves! This is one of the most important things to remember with plants that grow from bulbs. The bulbs are food storage units, but the way they get fat and sassy is through the photosynthesis action of the leaves. If you cut those off prematurely that limits the amount of nutrients available for the flowering for the next year. Allow the leaves to yellow and wither before removing them. This also means that bulbs growing in a naturalized manner in the lawn should be allowed to grow until well into June. A little mussiness is the price we pay for beautiful spring pictures.
- Like most bulbs, daffodils like moisture but good drainage: don’t let them sit in water to rot. If you have heavy clay soil, some recommend sand or Perlite spaded into the bed, but I have grown them in clay soils with no diminished health or blooming (attributing it to that handful or so of bone meal). Just make sure they aren’t planted in wet spots or deep shade.
Follow these five steps and I’m sure you will have a brilliant show of daffodils each year. It is fun to grow the different types with their varied forms and close harmonies of color -daffodils don’t clash! And another thing going for them is that they are poisonous, a real plus when you want something to deter rodents, which are bulb eating machines. Try interplanting daffodils with crocus, with daffodils 6-8 inches deep and a layer of crocus overplanted about 3-4 inches deep. The scent of the daffodils discourages pests from eating the crocus.
Daffodils can stretch your bloom season, with the many varieties of named daffodils listed.See Daffodil Variety List
When to buy bulbs, and what to look for.
Originally posted in my Garden Journal.