How to grow daffodils, according to a the experts

Daffodils, daffodils, yellow beauties, sunny stems. Whatever you choose to call these bright and beautiful blooms, there is a place for daffodils in any outdoor space.

“Daffodils have been popular for many hundreds of years and are said to be the harbingers of spring,” tells us Ian Tyler, Chairman of the Daffodil Society. “The bright yellow blooms can be seen at the beginning of each spring, foreshadowing warm and sunny weather ahead.”

And while they may be known for their sunny disposition thanks to their cheerful yellow coloring, there are a variety of shades to choose from these days, including yellow, orange, pink and white.

To introduce these sun-drenched flowers to your garden, we asked two green-fingered experts how to plant daffodil bulbs, when to plant them and how to care for them, from the bulb and beyond.

When to plant daffodil bulbs

Although daffodils are considered spring flowers, the right time to plant these flowers for optimal growth is actually in the fall, around mid-September.

“The ground would be too warm for that,” notes Ian. “And if you plant them later, it would be too cold for good root development.”

That could change, however, if temperatures of 40C continue to hit the UK in August or September.

“If we continue with 40C spells in September, I would delay planting a little until October, as modern daffodils need a cold spell to get going,” explains Ian.

Where to plant daffodil bulbs

Perhaps the most difficult decision when it comes to planting a bulb is deciding on its location. After all, you want to place your flowers in a habitat where they will thrive and be happy.

So where is the best planting spot? According to Guy Barter, head gardener at the Royal Horticultural Society, “beds, borders, pots and especially grass” are the locations of choice. “Daffodils love growing in the grass, but you need to let the foliage die back for six weeks before mowing in spring/summer.”

And when it comes to shady or sunny spots: “Sun is ideal, but the dappled shade under deciduous trees usually succeeds,” adds Guy.

daffodil bulbs

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A general guide to planting daffodils

So you’ve decided to grow your own daffodils. What now? Guy shares his tips:

  1. Identify a suitable spot to plant your daffodil bulbs. If you have a balcony, a pot or tub is ideal. However, if you have grass and don’t mind digging your bulbs into your lawn, go for the latter.
  2. Buy bulbs as early as possible, invest in a good trowel or bulb planter, and start planting. Fertilizers or other materials are not required.
  3. When planting your bulbs, dig them twice as deep as the bulb, or three times as deep if they are in sandy soil.
  4. After planting, water them well and let them do their thing.
    1. How to care for daffodil bulbs

      Once you’ve potted or planted your flower bulbs, there’s not much left to do.

      “You might have to dig them up and divide before replanting them every few years when flowering dies down, but that’s it,” says Guy. “Watering and fertilizing is only required for potted bulbs.”

      Whilst daffodils love water – in the autumn, winter and spring months they should be getting enough H2O from the UK weather forecast itself. But remember: they don’t like standing water, so try to plant in a well-drained area.

      However, as Ian says: “If dry weather prevails, water garden plants twice a week and potted flower bulbs three times a week. Like most plants, daffodils are in need, but when the roots have access to water they are almost trouble free.”

      daffodil bulbs

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      When do daffodil bulbs bloom?

      Daffodils really come into their own in spring. “The earliest start of the new year, many bloom in March, most bloom in April and the poet’s lovely daffodils bloom in May,” explains Guy. “Each bulb is sold with a baby flower in the center, so you get a flower almost every spring. They then multiply over many years and bloom more every spring.”

      General dos/don’ts when planting daffodils

      While growing daffodils doesn’t have to be difficult, there are a few tips to avoid when it comes to ensuring your bulbs thrive for years (and years) to come. Here’s what Ian had to say:

      • Protect yourself from pests and pets.
      • Plant 2.5 times as deep as the bulb and 2 inches apart, flat side down and pointed end up.
      • After flowering, feed your bulbs a potash-rich feed once a week for 6 weeks.
      • Never cut, tie, or knot the foliage. The leaves are needed for photosynthesis for next year’s flowering in each bulb.
      • When dead, use your fingers to remove the flower head and seed coat. Never cut them.
      • If flowers are needed to pick, water them first and pick them 30 minutes later. Never cut them, they will not break or bend.
      • Daffodils should only be pruned if you cut the base of the picked flower stalks at a 45% angle before placing them in water.
      • Put in a cool place.
      • Leaves can be removed when they begin to turn yellow and brown.

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