If you ask me, daffodils are the most carefree of all springtime perennial flowers. Their blooming is a sign that winter has finally come to a close. Even if they didn’t proclaim the end of winter, daffodils would be an important perennial garden flower in their own right.
Unlike tulips, daffodils are seldom bothered by rodents, deer or other pests. I think it’s because all parts of the daffodil are poisonous.
The purposeful cultivation of daffodils can be documented to at least the 16th century. They are the national flower of Wales and are traditionally worn on St. David’s Day, the first day of March.
Daffodils aren’t fussy and will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions and are not bothered by deer, moles or other garden pests. When choosing a planting location for daffodils there are many different choices.
A full sun to part sun location is best for daffodils, but a half a day’s sun works well too. Most daffodils appreciate well-drained soil that is fertile and slightly acidic.
Like many springtime bulbs daffodils look wonderful planted in groups under trees and near shrubs, along walls and fences and peeking out from underneath evergreen grown covers like ivy or Pachysandra.
Daffodils lend themselves to “naturalized” plantings in lawns and in woodland areas. A naturalized planting of daffodils and most other spring-flowering bulbs is very easy to achieve. Naturalized plantings are an effective use of flowering plants. They looks like Nature not the gardener did the planting. To naturalize an area, simply take a handful of bulbs and gently roll them along the ground. Where they stop simply plant them. I think daffodil bulbs look best planted in groups of the same variety.
When to Plant Daffodils
The first thing to know about daffodils is that like all spring-flowering bulbs they should be planted only in the fall. Spring flowering bulbs need a winter dormancy or a period of cold weather in order to properly bloom. Planting in early to mid-autumn gives the bulbs time to establish a root system before they begin their winter dormancy.
For those who garden and plant by moon signs, spring-flowering bulbs are best planted during a waning moon and in the sign of Libra. For those who don’t know a waning moon is after a full moon and is considered to be decreasing in light.
Any current year almanac will have table with that information.
How To Plant Daffodils
Select only top quality bulbs for planting. Discard any bulbs that are soft,spongy or shriveled. Choose bulbs that are large, firm and seem heavy.
Daffodil bulbs usually are “single nose” or “double nose” bulbs.The nose of a daffodil bulb is the pointy tip of the bulb. A single nose bulb will produce a single flower and a double nose bulb will produce two flowers and take up more space.
Daffodils like most spring-flowering bulbs should be planted at least twice their own depth. In general, the deeper they are planted the longer they will flower and not need to be moved. Daffodils can tolerate some crowding and the ideal spacing at planting time should be at least 3″to 5″ apart.
To plant daffodils simply take a short garden trowel or a bulb planter stab the ground and twist the trowel or planter to make an opening in the earth.
Sprinkle in about 1 teaspoon of 0-46-0 triple phosphate fertilizer into the hole. Next insert the bulb with your hand and then close the hole.
It’s usually a good idea to stamp the hole tightly after planting with your foot to make sure there is no air pocket and the bulb is making good contact with the soil. If you live in a dry climate you may want to water the area occasionally to insure that the bulbs begin producing roots.
The following spring will bring a modest bloom of flowers and by the second and third spring the daffodils will be mature. Once the bulbs are established, daffodils will bloom dependably every year afterward until they become overcrowded.
After blooming it is important to allow the green foliage to turn yellow and die back naturally. The green leaves are the mechanism that provides the food and energy for the following year’s flowers. If you take away the leaves too soon – you take away the future flowers.
How To Move or Transplant Daffodils
If you ever have a cause to move daffodils it’s best to wait until the foliage has turned yellow and is beginning to die down.
Late June or early July is about right for my location.
Now some people will advise you to move daffodils in the fall.
I don’t agree. Move them while you can still see them. It has been my experience that once the foliage has died back completely, it is hard and often impossible to locate the bulbs again in the autumn.
Use a rounded shovel and dig deep when lifting the bulbs. If you don’t go deep enough you may only bring up part of the bulb. When you lift the bulbs there will probably be some small bulbs attached.
I always save these little bulbs to replant. Wash any clinging dirt off the bulbs and leave them to dry in the sun for a week or so. Make sure they are thoroughly dried before you store them.
To test for “dryness”, clinging dirt should be able to be easily brushed off and the bulb will look “papery”.
In the fall replant the bulbs 6″ deep and enjoy them every spring for years to come.