Tips For Successful Planting

If you don’t plant appropriate daffodil bulbs and care for them in a “Southern” manner, they will reward you by promptly rotting or if you’re lucky, by turning to long leafy grass with no flowers. These tips were developed primarily for gardeners in USDA Zone 8b. If you live in central Florida in USDA Zone 9a, a few modifications are in order. More detailed daffodil culture tips are provided in the FDS membership. quarterly newsletters.


When ordering bulbs from catalogs, ask for early delivery and plant your bulbs upon arrival. Daffodil bulbs belong in the ground, not in the refrigerator or garage (pre-chilling damages daffodil bulbs). Try to plant in October or November, December at the latest.

· Choose a planting location that gets at least 6 hours of full sun. Do not amend your soil with anything other than sand for clay soils and leaves for sandy soils. Rich compost is not recommended. Well-drained, sandy loam is best. A well prepared bed, free of tree roots, pays dividends for years in bigger flowers and bulbs.

· Good drainage is crucial. Daffodil bulbs will promptly rot if your soil is not well drained. If you have soggy ground, elevate your bed(s) and add sand or chopped leaves.

· Plant 4 to 6 inches deep. For large tazetta type daffodils, often called bunch flowers or polyanthus narcissus (or just plain “narcissus”), the bulbs need to be planted 8 inches deep. The general rule of thumb is: plant 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. If planted too shallowly, bulbs will multiply quickly and not bloom.

· Space the bulbs out to give them room to multiply, but not too much. Plant large bulbs about a hand-span apart in each direction. Four or five bulbs per square foot gives a fairly “full” look. Be aware of sun orientation as daffodils face the sun – you want your daffodils to face you, not face away from you!

· Water in well after planting. Water well in October (1 to 2 inches of water in one or two good soakings) when the bulbs start sprouting roots. Lightly fertilize with a spread of super phosphate. Round out the fertilizing with wood ashes (for potassium and trace minerals). Around December, lightly spread a balanced fertilizer over the bed. Commercial bulb fertilizer is available. If you use a regular fertilizer, use one low in nitrogen (the first number in the three on the fertilizer bag).

· During the growing season, keep your daffodils watered, especially during dry spells. Stop watering after they have flowered. Let them “go down” naturally, and do not braid or cut the foliage until the leaves turn yellow – the photosynthesis process builds the bulb’s energy stores and flower(s) for next year.

· Daffodils love company, even when asleep in the summer time. Over planting is a must in the summer, along with two inches of mulch (straw or chopped leaves) to keep bulbs cool in the summer. If you plant in clumps, you can intersperse perennials in between. It is imperative to keep your bulbs out of the range of your sprinkling system to avoid loss from rot.

· It will be necessary to “lift” (or dig) and divide your bulbs about ever three years, in order to re-space the bulbs. Crowded bulbs don’t bloom; they also require more water, sun and fertilizer, and so can start to dwindle. Lift when foliage starts to go down. Do NOT pull apart baby bulblets or slabs from the mother bulb if it takes more than a gentle tug. Simply replant as is.

· For central Florida, daffodils need a bit more attention by you to combat the long summer heat. Compared to north Florida, daffodils need more dappled shade, thicker mulch, deeper planting, greater attention to watering (both lots of water in winter dry periods and seriously dry summer conditions), very good soil drainage, and careful selection of bulbs.


© 2006 Florida Daffodil Society