Planting Daffodils: The Definite Guide

Daffodils are both easy to grow and hardy perennials suited to most regions. The bulbs tend to be planted in the autumn, to encourage a late winter or early spring bloom and most traditional variants come in hues of white and yellow, complete with showy flowers brandishing a total of six petals and a central corona shaped like a trumpet.

The leafless stems showcase between one and 20 flowers; with this in mind, it’s often a good idea to stake daffodils, so that the flowers don’t weigh down the stems.

Daffodils are suited to both borders and are often used as fillers between shrubs, or alternatively, as cut flowers indoors.

Their vibrant yellow hue promises to brighten up any indoor space. If you’re lucky enough to have a woodland garden, daffodils are a must-buy, as they also look wonderful in large groves. Gardeners who have larger spaces to work with tend to plant the bulbs in their hundreds!

When to plant daffodil bulbs

For best results, plant daffodil bulbs in the autumn, around two to four weeks before the ground freezes.

If you’re unsure of when this is, check your local frost dates. When choosing a location, opt for an area that benefits from full or partial sunlight and choose a moderately fertile and well-drained soil. It’s important to ensure the ground is kept moist during the growing season.

The majority of daffodil species prefer neutral to acidic soils, with only a few types favouring slightly alkaline soils.

It’s therefore important to check the bulb variant before planting. When choosing bulbs, opt for high-quality daffodil bulbs that look healthy – not like they have been left to dry out for too long. The general rule is, the larger the bulb, the better.

When planting daffodils, dig a hollow measuring between one to five times the depth of the bulb.

Where winters are extremely harsh, it’s important to cover the bulbs with at least three inches of soil. For best results, add a little bulb fertilizer at this stage. Although daffodils are able to tolerate some crowding, they prefer to be spaced between three and six inches apart.

It’s important to be patient when growing the likes of tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs – uncovering them too early can cause harm. You may however loosen the mulch slightly but it’s wise to keep the shoots sheltered from and cold, drying winds.

Daffodil Care

To promote healthy growth, apply a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer post-flowering. This will promote good health and is especially beneficial if the bulbs are not performing as desired. As flowers can often fall in dry conditions, it’s important to water late-flowering daffodils in dry spring weather.

Pruning daffodils are also very effective when it comes to encouraging health and optimal growth, as flowers can fade if left to grow too unruly. Deadheading these plants will also allow you to create a neater garden.

Leaves on the other hand should be allowed to remain for at least six weeks. When flowering becomes sparse or the clumps become congested, simply lift and separate any clumps.

Once your daffodils have begun to bloom, which should take place in the spring, it’s wise to allow the plants to grow until they die off. This is because they need time (post-flowering) to store energy for next year’s bloom.

To remove any dead plants from your garden, twist the leaves while pulling lightly or cut them off at the base.

Pests and diseases

Daffodils are an asset to gardeners, especially those wishing to create an outdoor area that is almost maintenance-free. This is because they are resistant to both rodents and deer – this is because animals don’t like the bulb’s taste or any bulbs from the Narcissus family for that matter.

With this in mind, it’s important to know that daffodils can also be poisonous to pets. If you have animals, keep them away from these plants.

The most common problems to affect Daffodils include pests such as the large narcissus bulb fly, narcissus nematode, bulb scale mite, narcissus basal rot, slugs, and other fungal infections, as well as viruses.

Harvest and storage

When using daffodils as cut flowers to display in the home, they should be placed alone (without any other flower species) in a vase.

This is because they wreak havoc on other species, as their stems stow a harmful fluid. If you need to combine them with other flowers, it’s a good idea to soak them by themselves overnight, rinsing them and adding them to the arrangement at the last minute.

In addition to this, certain people (especially those susceptible to skin allergies) may find this sap causes irritation, which means it’s wise to refrain from contact. Wearing gloves when handling daffodils is therefore a good idea.

Recommended Varieties

There are a number of varieties of Daffodil to choose from, including ‘Golden Ducat’ – a specie boasting a double daffodil, complete with bright, pure yellow petals. It flowers mid- to late season and grows to an impressive height of between 12 and 16 inches tall.

Another popular variant is ‘Petit Four’ – a great option for partially shady areas. The flower boasts pure white petals with a double cup of pretty apricot pink. This species can grow to a height of 16 inches.

The ‘Rip van Winkle’ comes in the shape of a miniature double daffodil, which grows between six and eight inches in height. It’s best placed with others of its kind and looks particularly good in a grove.

Interesting facts

Daffodils, the March birth flower, symbolize regard for others. They are therefore a great gift to give those you care about and are guaranteed to brighten up a loved one’s day.

Planting daffodils can provide a much-needed burst of colour to your garden and outdoor spaces, and if looked after properly, they’ll return year after year. If you’re successful in your attempts at planting daffodils we’d love to hear from you, especially if you have any extra tips that you think we’ve missed.



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Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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