Daffodils blooming under a blue sky. By Don Paulson. Daffodils blooming under a blue sky. By Don Paulson.

How To Plant Daffodils

 

By Katrina Godshalk

While not the first bulb to bloom, the Daffodil is the quintessential flower of spring. Representing the sun itself, its cheery stature and bright clear color announce the beginning of spring and the symphony of color on its way.

Daffodils, also known as narcissus and jonquil, are one of the easiest bulbs to grow. Like all bulbs, they need well-drained soil, and a winter freeze (If in zones 8+, bulbs will need to be chilled). Full sun or even light shade will do; Daffodils are one of the most resilient and hardy of all bulbs. Planting daffodil bulbs in the fall has become a yearly ritual in many families; one that evolves with the years, but always gives back abundantly come spring.

The act of planting Daffodil bulbs in the fall is an act of hope and patience. It reminds us of the transformative power of nature. While much of the natural world seems to sleep through winter in dormancy, flower bulbs are storehouses of nutrients that send out roots during winter and nurture new life within. 

 

Where To Plant Daffodil Bulbs

Daffodils like sun or part sun, and need well-drained soil. Hillsides are great and for naturalizing - any sunny area you don’t have to mow will do well. They are lovely peeking up through ground covers and can give a perennial bed spring color before the perennials start to grow. Daffodils can grow well beneath leafy trees as they will finish blooming before the trees have leafed out. They do not do well under evergreens.

Tips For Planting Daffodil Bulbs

  • Daffodils like well-drained, enriched garden soil. It’s best to dig deeper than the required depth and enrich the soil with compost and Yum Yum Mix or other amendments.
  • Another great tool to have handy is the Bulb Planter.
  • Plant six weeks before you expect frost, and up to a hard freeze.
  • Plant the larger bulbs 3 times deeper than the bulb’s height (this is the general rule for all large bulbs). A typical garden daffodil bulb is 2-3 inches in height, so you would plant bulb at least 6-9 inches below the soil.
  • Pointed side up! Roots side down! Cover with soil, water well, and you are on your way to spring flowers. Continue to water if needed until winter moisture arrives.
Daffodils in Bloom at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.Daffodils in Bloom at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Daffodils in Bloom at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Advantages Of Planting Daffodils

Two important pluses to planting daffodil bulbs: deer and squirrels don’t like them, and many varieties naturalize when happy. A bulb that naturalizes is a bulb that returns and multiplies every year. Like interest on a bank account, bulb dividends will spread informally through your garden, paying you back in flowers for years to come.

Did you know? Spring bulb blooms provide honeybees and other pollinators an early spring food source.

 

Choosing The Right Daffodils

There are many varieties of daffodils with bloom times from early to late spring. Be sure to choose a selection of bloom times to keep you in flowers all spring long – or make life simple and choose a collection of bulbs that span the season, such as High Country Garden’s 60 Days of Daffodils Mix.

Daffodils originated in the meadows and woods of the Iberian peninsula, in what is now Spain and Portugal. They have been cultivated for many centuries and were well known and cultivated in Europe in the 16th century.

Daffodils vary greatly in look, height, color, and flower form. There are many varieties that are sweetly fragrant. (If you’re looking for fragrance, be sure to search our filters for “fragrant flowers” under Advantages.)

  • Trumpet Daffodils (also known as Large-Cupped Daffodils) The most stately group of daffodils, they are the type we most frequently think of when we think ‘daffodil’, such as the popular Dutch Master Trumpet Daffodils. Taller and larger flowered than other types, the High Country Gardens selections are chosen for their improved garden performance, sturdy wind and snow resistant stems, and interesting colors.
  • Miniature Daffodils are the minis of the daffodil world, such as the popular Tete-a-Tete Miniature Daffodils. Often just six inches tall, they pack a colorful punch of color. They will also naturalize well and form colonies of flowers. They are lovely planted around borders and amongst perennials, and are popular in containers. Plant the bulbs at a depth of 3 inches

Daffodil Care In Spring

  • When spring flowers arrive, enjoy them in the garden or as cut flowers.
  • After flowering, the bulbs start to store energy for next year’s flowers. For this reason, it is important to let the flower die back naturally. Once it is yellowed it’s okay to cut it back. Some gardeners like to dig their bulbs at this point to move them to a different spot come fall. Or, simply leave them in the ground to return the next year.
  • If you do dig your bulbs, wash them, and allow them to dry very thoroughly (1 week or so). Place them in burlap sacks and store in a cool, well-ventilated place until fall planting time.
Daffodils in Bloom at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.Daffodils in Bloom at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Daffodils in Bloom at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Daffodowndilly

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down. 
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”

–A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

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