Tips for Growing Daffodils

Of all the bulbs that bloom in the late winter and early spring, daffodils (Narcissus) are among the easiest and most rewarding to grow. If given minimum care at planting time they will grow, bloom, and increase in number with virtually no further attention from you. Because their flowers bloom in early spring you don't need to water the plants during the summer. Daffodils seldom need dividing, and perhaps best off all, they are completely unappetizing to the same rodents that find your tulip bulbs irresistible.


Daffodils in Containers

Daffodils can be grown in containers providing the containers are deep enough to allow at least 2 inches of rooting medium beneath the bottom of the bulbs. Small species of Narcissus, like N. Tazaetta, work best if you are looking for permanent, long-term container plants. Most of the larger flowering daffodils, however, tend to perform well in a container for just one season, after which their performance starts to decline. After their "big year" it is best to dig them up and move them to the garden and replant the container with a fresh round of bulbs.Bulbs growing in containers need cool conditions and plenty of fresh air. While the bulbs are rooting, exposure to temperatures above 45 F may cause the flowers to abort. After planting bulbs in the fall, cover the bare soil with mulch and place the containers in a cold place like an unheated garage. Move the containers into a cool room approximately 12 to 16 weeks later. Depending on your climate you can also set them outside. Once the flower buds appear in the spring, blooming can be advanced by gradually raising the temperature.


Daffodils in the Garden

Daffodils are incredibly versatile bulbs. In the garden, use them to bring early spring color to mixed borders of annuals and perennials, or plant them under deciduous trees and shrubs. Daffodils are also among the most reliable of bulbs for naturalizing open grassy areas as they rarely need lifting in borders or grass. Tiny dwarf daffodil species are an ideal choice for rock gardens and raised beds.Daffodils will grow in almost any soil type, but they prefer moist, well-drained, slightly alkaline conditions. They will thrive in sun or lightly dappled shade. Plant the bulbs two to three times their depth (spaced 4 to 6 inches apart) in late summer or early fall. Water newly planted bulbs thoroughly to initiate root growth. In many growing zones, fall and winter will be wet (or snowy) enough to take care of the bulbs moisture needs until spring.


In warmer climates, keep the plantings well watered between rains-especially after the foliage has broken through the ground. If you are naturalizing daffodil bulbs, avoid cutting the old foliage until it turns yellow and begins to die back (about 6 weeks after flowering). As long as the foliage remains green, it is still working to recharge the bulbs for next year's flowers. Feed bulbs in the fall with a slow release organic fertilizer.

Dividing daffodils

Clumps of established daffodils only need dividing once flower production and bloom quality has started to decline (every few years). Dig up the bulbs in the summer just after the foliage dies back. In order to minimize damage to the bulbs, use a flat garden fork or trowel to carefully pry out the large clumps. Separate the bulbs by hand (those difficult to pry apart should be left intact) and either replant them immediately, or store them until it time to plant them in the fall.


About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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Ellen Brown ArticlesApril 22, 2012
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