Daffodils – Planting Suggestions & Care Tips
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
One of my favorite flowers is the daffodil. I love their cheerful yellow colors, fluted trumpets, and their tall grace. These spring flowers are elegant additions to my garden beds.
You may hear daffodils referred to as narcissus. These plants grow from bulbs. The stalks are long with spear-shaped leaves. Different plant varieties provide different types of blooms, for instance, single- or double-flowers. Some are solid colors, while others have trumpets a different color than the flower petals. There are dwarf daffodils as well as taller varieties, and they come in many colors: mainly in yellow and white hues. However, you can find daffodils in shades of pink or with orange accent colors.
A great feature of daffodils is their resistance to being nibbled by wildlife. The bulbs don’t taste good to critters, plus if eaten can prove toxic. I have had a few mischievous squirrels dig up the bulbs, though.
When and How to Plant
My yard is generous with daffodil plantings. Along one side of the house, I planted a double row of daffodils to herald in spring. I also have smaller groupings scattered throughout my flower beds. Since daffodils are a spring flower, you can plant it among other flowering plants that bloom later in the season (by then the daffodils will have died back).
Look for a sunny area to plant the bulbs. They also like well drained soil.
Daffodil bulbs are planted in the autumn about six weeks before the first hard frost. I dig the earth about twelve inches down to loosen it. I also add bulb fertilizer, mixing it well with the soil. As a rule of thumb, the bulbs are planted six to eight inches below the surface of the ground (double-check the planting instructions that come with your bulbs). If you look at the bulb, you will see one end is pointed. Place the pointed end face up in the hole and cover the bulb with soil. Bulbs can be placed about five inches apart. Keep the daffodil plants consistently watered.
Care & Maintenance
The one place I can never encourage daffodils to grow is under an overhang (such as house eaves). For some reason, the bulbs will happily grow on either side of the overhang, but will not grow under it.
As the flowers bloom and die, remove the dead flower heads. This is called “dead heading”. If the spent flowers are not removed, seed pods could form, drawing needed nutrients from the bulb.
Once the plant leaves begin to die back, do not disturb them. If you have other plants around the daffodils, this can hide the dying leaves. As the daffodil leaves wither, their nutrients flow back to the bulb, so it is important not to cut the leaves.
Once the foliage has died back, if needed, you can divide the bulbs. Using a pitch fork, gently ease the bulbs from the earth. You will see where the bulbs can be separated. Once the bulbs are divided, plant them as you would a new bulb.
Daffodils are a cheerful flower and a spirit-brightener. They also make lovely cut flowers. Seeing those blooms after a long winter is a treat! The plants are easy to care for, too, and the bulbs last for years and years.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2011 Dawn Lesley Stewart