Daffodils belong to the narcissus genus of the Amaryllidaceae family, known as "fairies in flowers", and are one of the most famous, brightest and most popular flowers in the world. This charming trumpet-shaped flower blooms from the bulbous roots every spring. They have a cheerful and gorgeous appearance and bright sunny colors. The flower language of daffodils symbolizes longing, reunion, rebirth and purity.
How to Choose and Prepare a Planting Site
Select a site that offers full sun or partial sun, at the least. Daffodils will bloom best when given adequate exposure to early spring sunshine!
Most daffodils tolerate a range of soils but grow best in moderately fertile, well-drained soil that is kept moist during the growing season. They are susceptible to rot when kept too wet, so make sure that you plant them in a well-draining spot.
Many of the popular species prefer neutral to acidic soils, but some prefer slightly alkaline soils, so consult the supplier of your bulbs to see which is best for your daffodil variety.
Over time, daffodils will produce new, “daughter” bulbs that are attached to the main bulb which you planted originally. This results in nice little clumps of daffodils that stay relatively contained to where you planted them.
When to Grow Daffodil (Narcissus)
The best time to plant daffodil bulbs is in the fall (exact timing can range anywhere from September to late November, depending on where you live). The soil needs to have cooled off, but the ground still needs to be workable when you plant. The ideal soil temperature for planting daffodils is 60 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of 6 inches.
How to Grow Daffodil (Narcissus)
Steps for Daffodil(Narcissus) Propagation with Bulbs
If you live in USDA zones 4 to 6, the best time to plant daffodils is as soon as they are available in early autumn.
When growing daffodils, you should plant them in groups of ten or more. All you do is make a loose circle with about seven bulbs and put three in the middle.
For aesthetic reasons, you don't want to mix different cultivars within each planting group. The effect will be better if you plant one kind together (such as a group of ten “Ice Follies,” but not a group of “Ice Follies” mixed with “Spellbinder,” etc.). You can plant these in bigger blocks if your space allows it, using 25 or more bulbs.
Daffodils look great in a formal garden with shapes like squares or circles. Even tapered, fish-shaped plantings look great.
Steps for Planting Daffodil Bulbs
- Be sure to plant the daffodil bulbs with the pointy end up and the fatter, somewhat flattened end down.
- Plant your daffodils twice as deep as the bulb is tall. In other words, if a bulb is 2 inches (5 cm.) from the base to the tip, you would dig a 6 inch (15 cm.) deep hole to put the bulb 4 inches (10 cm.) below the soil level. Deep planting helps prevent frost heave and protects the bulbs from accidental damage from spades and rakes. You don’t need to measure the hole — just give it your best guess. Larger bulbs go deeper, of course, and smaller bulbs go closer to the surface. Plant the bulbs more deeply in sandy soil and more shallowly in heavier, clay type soils.
- You will want to cover the bulbs with soil and then water them well after you're finished planting them. Mulch the area with pine bark mulch, chopped leaves, or whatever you usually use as mulch to help protect it.
- In zones 6 and 7, garden daffodils will bloom in mid-spring, but they’ll come sooner in a mild winter region (zones 8 and 9). Of course, this means they bloom later in colder regions.
- Growing daffodils is very reliable and they will come back year after year. Combining them with other kinds of plants such as perennials, annuals, and shrubs will make your garden a livelier and more interesting place.
Steps for Daffodil(Narcissus) Propagation through Asexual Propagation
- Think about trying asexual propagation.
Asexual propagation means duplicating the exact plant that grew the year before. When choosing buds to use for this method remember to choose those that performed the best in your area, so that only those characteristics will be carried forward to the next year. To begin, wait until the plant has finished its flowering cycle and the leaves of the plant begin to die back and turn yellow. This must be done in the summer to allow enough time for new growth before planting in the fall.
- Cut back the daffodils. Cut the leaves of the daffodil plant back to the ground, leaving a few inches behind. Remove any mulch, rocks, or landscaping materials that you do not want worked into the soil from the area.
- Remove the bulbs from the ground.
Dig around the area and lift the daffodils with a turning fork.
Remove the bulbs from the bed and lay them aside. On the bulbs should be small offsets that are growing from bulblets or small bulbs on the stem, shoots, and scales.
These bulblets will produce new plants and can be immediately be returned to the soil, they will grow slowly and produce new flowers one to two years after being planted -- so plant them with large parent bulbs for continuous growth.
You will then have to encourage growth. This can be done with three different methods.
How to Care for Daffodil(Narcissus)
Daffodils will thrive best when planted in full sun, though they can withstand a bit of partial shade or dappled light. If you are contending with a shadier spot, aim to plant your bulbs angled to the area that gets the most light—once bloomed, the flowers will grow towards the sun, so doing so will ensure you get forward-facing blooms.
Daffodil plants prefer a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. They thrive in rich, moist soil but, as with most bulbs, they require excellent drainage or they will rot. Since daffodils can survive for years, you will want to find a spot to plant them where will not sit in waterlogged soil.
Water daffodils thoroughly at the time of planting then once a week for the next 3 weeks. (This is a crucial time to water, as the plants are growing their first roots.) After the first few weeks, leave the plants alone until they begin to grow in the spring.
Once you see daffodil leaves peeking out of the soil, it's time to pay attention again. Usually spring rains will provide plenty of moisture but if your area goes without rain for 2 or 3 weeks while daffodils are growing and blooming, water the plants. Stop watering once blooms are past and the foliage begins to turn brown, as that marks the beginning of a period of dormancy and excess water can cause the bulbs to rot.
Temperature and Humidity
Daffodil hardiness will vary slightly with varieties and exposure, but most daffodils are reliable within USDA hardiness zones three to nine. Most daffodils need a cold period to set roots (which is why they're typically planted in autumn), but certain divisions of daffodils will grow in warmer climates, especially if given sufficient water. Overall, daffodils do not need any added humidity.
To build up a healthy bulb for flowering next season it is a good idea to spread around a well-balanced fertiliser. Use a complete fertiliser, not one that contains only nitrogen as this will lead to all leaf growth. A balanced fertiliser with a ratio of NPK 6:6:6 or an azalea or camellia food will be fine. The best time to feed is just as the flowering is finishing and well before the leaves begin dying off. It is particularly important to feed daffodils planted in pots regularly after flowering to ensure healthy bulb for the following year.
Wait until the foliage turns yellow before you cut it down – usually about six weeks after flowering finishes. Don't be tempted to tie the leaves into a knot either, to keep them neat. Daffodil leaves should be allowed to photosynthesise for as long as possible, so they can fully replenish the energy reserves in the bulb, for a good flowering display the next year. If you remove the leaves too early, you may reduce flowering next spring.
Pests and Diseases
Daffodils are easy to grow with naturally robust health, but a few problems can occur, with fungi and gastropods being the main culprits.
Bacterial infections are rare, but fungi such as Fusarium oxysporum can be an issue, causing bulb rot and yellowing of the leaves.
Remove and safely discard infected plants immediately. It’s important to burn them or dispose of them in the same way you would get rid of other infectious refuse – don't put them on the compost pile. Don’t replant in the same spot for the next five years, or replant with resistant varieties such as N. triandrus, N. tazetta or N. jonquilla.
Slugs and snails enjoy munching on tender leaves and can be dealt with in several natural ways, conveniently outlined in this article.
On the plus side, narcissus is wonderfully resistant to deer and rodents – a great option if Bambi and Rocky the squirrel stop by to enjoy a tulip feast.
Varieties of Daffodil (Narcissus)
'Golden Ducat' is a double daffodil with pure yellow petals. It blooms in mid- to late season and grows 12 to 16 inches tall.
'Petit Four' is a good choice for a partially shady site. The flower has white petals with a double cup of apricot pink and grows 16 inches tall.
'Rip van Winkle' is a miniature double daffodil that grows 6 to 8 inches tall and looks great in a grove with many others of its kind.
Do you have to lift the bulbs every year?
It is not necessary to lift daffodils
every year, probably every three years is enough. The best guide is that if a clump is not flowering very well, that is if flowers are becoming fewer and fewer, this means that the clump has become too crowded. You should definitely lift and divide them, splitting these bulbs up so they get a new lease of life.
How do you store bulbs?
When you lift daffodil bulbs put them into an open mesh bag like an onion or orange bag and hang in a cool airy spot in the garage or garden shed. Keep them there until March which is the time to plant them in the garden. Refrigeration of daffodils is not necessary for normal flowering.