Daffodils: Heralding Spring

Daffodils? Who’s thinking about daffodils this time of year? Well, you should be if you’re looking to add early spring color to your garden. Yes, this is the ideal time to select, purchase, and plant your daffodil bulbs for next spring. So let’s talk about this beloved cheery flower that announces the arrival of spring each year. \"TrumpetA member of the Amaryllidaceae family, the daffodil (Narcissus) is the easiest and hardiest bulb to grow and is perfect for beginning gardeners. Blooming in the spring, daffodil’s 10,000+ cultivars come not only in yellow and white, but also red, orange, and pink. With their bright color and pleasing shapes, daffodils are great for hillsides, raised beds, planting between shrubs and borders, and in rock gardens. Selecting bulbs The ideal bulb is solid and fat, and smells fresh. You’ll find the best selection if you shop as early in the season as you can. Daffodils are generally planted in the fall before the ground freezes, but many catalog companies will let you order in the spring for fall delivery. Until you’re ready to plant your bulbs, store them in a cool, dark, dry place. If you let them get too warm, bulbs will sprout prematurely. Planting bulbs Daffodils prefer sunny or partially shade areas that get at least half a day of sun. You can plant bulbs just about anywhere except beneath evergreen trees; you can, however, plant them under deciduous trees, which won’t leaf out until after the daffodils have bloomed.


They like moist, slightly acidic (pH 6-7), well-drained soil. The perfect planting depth is about three times as deep as the bulb is tall; in general, you’ll plant bulbs 7-8” deep and 4-6” apart. If you’re planting just a few bulbs, the easiest way is to dig a series of holes, each large enough to accommodate four or five bulbs. If you’re planting a lot of bulbs, you can either dig a trench or wide hole (for a nice grouping of blooms), or get a special gardening awl attachment for your power drill to dig each hole individually. Sprinkle some bonemeal in the holes to give the bulbs a head start. If your soil quality is not the best, dig a bed to a depth of about 18”. Add approximately 6” of well-rotted manure, into which you should mix topsoil such that the hole is about two-thirds filled. Set the bulbs on top of the compost-soil mixture, and cover them with additional topsoil to ground level. For a prolonged blooming season, you can plant bulbs at different depths in the bed. If drainage is an issue, plant your bulbs on a hillside or in raised beds. After planting, water the area generously. Bulbs are typically pest-free, but sometimes fall victim to the narcissus bulb fly, eel worms, and fungal infections. Flushing infected bulbs with hot water or using fungicides before you plant can help.


A pot o’ gold If you’d rather use pots, plant your bulbs in October. Start with a 16-24” pot and fill it with soil to about 5” from the rim (adding bonemeal or slow-release fertilizer, if you’d like).\"Golden Place the bulbs on top of the soil, making sure they don’t touch each other, cover them with more soil, and then mulch. Water well for the first few weeks, and then as necessary until spring. When the first leaves begin to emerge, move your pots to a sunny location, top-dress with a low-nitrogen fertilizer mix, and water regularly. To tie back, or not to tie back After your daffodils are done blooming, their foliage will remain for several weeks. Tying back or braiding the foliage is a common practice, but not advisable, since the leaves are using the sun’s rays to create food that will be used for next year’s flowers. By tying them back, you’re depriving the plant of some food-making potential. Instead, top-dress the area with compost or fertilizer and remove the leaves only after they turn yellow or brown. To hide the unsightly foliage, plant summer-blooming perennials (like daylilies) or tall annuals in the same bed. Bulb division Typically, daffodils are divided every three to five years, or when the quality and quantity of blooms have deteriorated. The best time to divided is about eight weeks after flowering (usually June or July, or when the leaves die back). Choose an overcast day to avoid sun damage. Before starting the division process, dig a hole that is three times as large as the clump’s previous home. To divide, simply separate each clump into sections, making sure to avoid tearing the roots. After planting, water them in well, but don’t fertilize until the following year. Daffodils - hardy, easy to grow, and absolutely gorgeous! Just a few bulbs can add a magical quality to any garden bed, as they happily herald that spring has sprung!

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