How to Grow Daffodils
Blooming daffodils signal the arrival of spring, but these flowers require attention in other seasons, too. Here’s what you need to know.
- Select daffodils that will perform well in your growing zone.
- Plant in a sunny location with excellent drainage.
- Plant bulbs in fall for spring blooms.
- Prepare the soil by adding Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers.
- Plant daffodils at the appropriate depth with the pointy end up.
- Water daffodils thoroughly at the time of planting and again in the spring when they begin to grow.
- Feed daffodils with Miracle-Gro® Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food after they flower.
- Allow daffodil foliage to die back naturally after plants stop blooming.
- Divide daffodils if they become crowded and stop blooming.
No spring garden is complete without daffodils. You really can’t have too many, either, as they’re almost always the only plants blooming in the garden during the early spring. Daffodils are some of the easiest spring flowering bulbs to grow, and are perennial, so they reliably come back year after year.
Here’s how to plant and grow daffodils.
How to Choose Daffodils
Most daffodil varieties require a period of cold weather each winter in order to stimulate blooms for the following spring, so they grow best in cooler areas (zones 7 and lower). There are, however, some varieties that grow well in warmer areas (zones 8 and higher), and these will always be marked in bulb catalogs. There are hundreds of daffodil varieties to choose from.
There are miniature daffodils and daffodils with giant flowers. You can buy bulbs with peach, orange, yellow, pink, white, or bicolor flowers. There are early-, mid-, and late-season bloomers. With careful planning, you can enjoy 3 months of daffodil blooms! There are even places that sell “100-day mixes” of bulbs to make it easy for you to enjoy an extended daffodil season.
Where to Plant Daffodils
Plant daffodils in a sunny spot, one that gets at least 6 hours of bright sun each day. If planted in partial shade, the plants will still produce green leaves, but they won’t bloom. Like most bulbs, daffodils prefer well-drained soil; otherwise they are prone to rotting.
When to Plant Daffodils
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 Prepare the Soil for Planting Daffodils
Prepare new planting areas with Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers, mixing 3 inches in with the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil. This will provide bulbs with the nutrition they need to grow a strong root system in preparation for spring flowering.
How to Plant Daffodils
You can plant daffodils in rows, in groups (3 and 5 are good numbers), or individually. If you’re planting a lot of bulbs in a row along the edge of a flowerbed, it’s easier to dig a trench or wide hole in which to plant. If you’re planting groups here and there in a flowerbed or in the lawn, you’ll want to plant them individually. However many you’re planting, bulbs should be placed 4 to 6 inches apart.
Plant each daffodil bulb so the pointy end, or tip, is facing up. Dig the hole or trench so that when the bulb is placed inside, the tip is 2 inches deeper than the bulb is tall. So, for example, a 2-inch long bulb should be planted 4 inches deep (measuring from the bottom of the bulb), while a 3-inch long bulb should be planted 5 inches deep. Water well after planting then cover the soil with a layer of mulch for both a tidy look and to help the soil retain moisture longer.
How to Water Daffodils
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.
How to Feed Daffodils
Great soil and just the right plant food are a power combo for magnificent garden results. So, after they’ve bloomed in the spring, feed daffodils with Miracle-Gro® Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food to help the bulbs store nutrients for the next growing season. Feed every 3 months, following label directions, and stop feeding once the foliage turns brown.
What to Do with Daffodils After They Bloom
Remove spent daffodil flowers after they bloom to encourage the plants to direct energy back into the bulb, rather than setting seed. (This process is called deadheading.) Allow the leaves to stay upright and unfurled after the plant finishes blooming, as it is during this period that the plants use photosynthesis to create and store food to use for the next spring’s blooms. Allow the foliage to die back naturally before you do any cutting back. If you don’t like the look of the foliage as it is turning brown, try planting late-emerging perennials around the daffodils as a screen.
How to Divide Daffodils
If daffodils are growing in full sun and have been allowed to naturally die back the previous spring, yet are not blooming when they should, they will need to be divided in the fall. Place a golf tee next to each spring clump that you need to divide so that they will be easy to find once they’ve died back. Dig up each clump and break apart the bulbs. Replant the largest bulbs at least two bulb widths apart. (You can leave small bulbs attached to bigger bulbs when dividing.) Prepare the soil as you would if you were planting new bulbs.
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