Daffodils are bright, cheery flowers that are one of the first to pop up in spring. Their sunny yellow blooms are often the brightest spots of color in the cold and barren landscape left at the end of winter. When you see daffodils, you know warm weather is on the way. Daffodils can also be grown in pots and are frequently used in floral arrangements not only for their beauty but also for their lovely fragrance.
Cool Fact: Daffodils contain a chemical called galantamine, which has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Also, William Wordsworth’s most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, is about daffodils.
What Do Daffodils Look Like?
Daffodils have long, flat green leaves and bright blooms made up of six petals surrounding a trumpet. The most popular daffodil varieties have yellow flowers, but they also come in white, pink and orange. They grow out of bulbs that look similar to onions.
When Do Daffodils Bloom?
You’ll notice their green shoots beginning to peek out of the ground as early as late January depending on what part of the country you live in. The blooms will burst open in cheery colors about three or four weeks later.
When Should You Plant Daffodils?
For daffodils to flower in early spring, the bare bulbs are usually planted in fall (September – November) when the soil is cool but not yet frozen. But don’t despair if it’s already spring and you haven’t gotten them planted yet. Most garden centers offer bulb plants. These are daffodil (and other) bulbs grown in containers that are already showing green shoots and possibly blooms as well. These are ready to be popped into your garden in spring.
Where Should You Plant Daffodils?
Daffodils are sun lovers, but they’re happy in partial shade as well. As long as they get at least six hours of bright sun per day, they’ll give you plenty of blooms. In shadier spots they’ll still produce lots of leaves, but they won’t bloom as much.
Daffodils are pretty hardy, so they can tolerate most types of soil as long as it’s well drained. If your yard is more clay than soil, you may want to mix in some sand or peat moss to improve drainage. If the soil gets too waterlogged, they’re prone to rotting. As with most plants, daffodils will do best in rich soil.
If you’re lazy like me, don’t worry about it and just stick them in the ground. But if you want to be sure you’ll get max bloomage, mix in some high quality garden soil.
If you already grow daylilies in your yard, daffodils are the perfect spring complement to them. Daylilies come into bloom just as daffodil flowers are beginning to fade. Keep that color going year round by planting them together.
How Do You Plant Daffodils?
Not like this
You can plant daffodils individually, in a row or in groupings. If you go with a grouping, fancy art people recommend planting odd numbers – five, seven or even nine if you’re going all out. Plant them in a loose circle with a couple in the middle for a nice, full grouping.
Tip: If you’re planting a row of daffodils, it’s often easier to dig a trench instead of a bunch of little holes.
How Deep Should You Plant Daffodil Bulbs?
The bulbs should be planted twice as deep as the bulb is tall. So, if the bulb is two inches long, you would dig a six inch deep hole so that the bulb ends up being four inches below the soil level. You don’t need to get out the tape measurer though. Just eyeball it and make sure it’s at least four inches deep, with larger bulbs going a little deeper.
What Happens if Bulbs Aren’t Planted Deep Enough?
Deep planting protects daffodil bulbs from frost and accidental damage from rakes and other lawn tools. If your soil is more heavy clay than dirt, you may want to plant them a bit more shallowly to help the plants break through that tough ground.
Whether you’re planting daffodil bulbs or daffodil plants, be sure to water them thoroughly once they’re planted. If they’re bulbs, cover the soil with a layer of mulch to help protect them through winter.
Tip: When planting bulbs, the pointy end goes up.
Can Daffodils Be Planted in Pots and Containers?
Absolutely. If you’re planting daffodil plants (versus bare bulbs) in containers, fill your pot with high-quality potting mix and dig a hole the same size as the starter pot. Plop the daffodil in the hole, tamp the soil down a bit and water thoroughly. Congrats, you’re now a full fledged gardener and it only took about five minutes.
If you’re planting bare bulbs (versus sprouting plants) in containers, fill the pot two-thirds of the way with potting mix. Then set the bulbs a couple of inches apart with the points sitting just below the rim of the pot. Cover with soil and water whenever the soil feels dry.
Is There a Video That Shows How to Plant Daffodils?
Sho nuff. Here ya go:
How Do You Care for Daffodils?
Daffodils are pretty self-sufficient, so they’re a great entry-level plant if you have a black thumb.
Water your daffodils regularly in spring and fall (two to three times per week depending on your soil and climate), but stop watering them in summer, about a month after the flowers fade. They go dormant during summer and prefer to sleep in drier soil. Who doesn’t?
If you have crappy soil or it seems that your daffodils aren’t flowering as much as they should be, sprinkle some bulb food or bone meal over the soil and water it well. Feed them when the leaves first emerge and again when they flower for best results.
If you’re growing daffodils in containers, they’ll give you flowers for up to three years if the pots are deep enough (at least eight inches, although 12 inches is ideal). Just like with daffodils planted in the ground, you should stop watering during summer and let the soil dry out until fall. Make sure your daffodil containers are placed in a cool place for winter (no more than 45 degrees). The containers can be moved into a sunnier, warmer spot in spring.
What Do You Do with Daffodils After Flowering?
You can remove dead flowers as needed, although you don’t have to. But under no circumstances should you cut or mow the leaves before they’re completely withered and yellow. The leaves soak up the sun and store nutrients in the bulb for next year. Cut the leaves down early and you’ll end up with few to no blooms next year.
Does Picking Daffodils Encourage More Flowers?
Short answer: no.
Longer answer: Each plant will only bloom once per year no matter what you do. But you can encourage your daffodils to store more energy and produce more daughter bulbs so that you’ll have more flowers next year.
How? By simply ignoring them after the blooms die. Don’t cut the leaves, don’t mow over them, just leave them alone. Told ya daffodils were easy. The leaves will gather and store nutrients (you know, that whole photosynthesis thing) in the bulb. So, if you cut or mow the leaves, there’s nothing there to photosynthesize. Thus, no more blooms next year.
You can remove dead flowers to maintain a nicer appearance if you like. Once the flowers all fade and the leaves are all yellow and dried up, you may remove the foliage if you prefer that your dirt look clean.
Note that picking daffodil flowers won’t harm the plants. Just pinch the stem off as close to the ground as possible. Then you can place those cheery little trumpets into vases to give yourself a bit of sunshine inside.
How Long Do Daffodils Bloom?
Each plant only blooms once per year and their blooms usually last six to 10 weeks. However, some cultivars in warmer locations can bloom for up to six months.
Do Daffodils Spread?
Each daffodil bulb will begin forming smaller “daughter” bulbs over the years. So they may look like they’re growing in thicker, but they’re not actually spreading much.
To spread your daffodils, dig them up once every five years or so, separate the daughter bulbs and replant each one separately. Be sure to preserve a piece of the basal plate (where the little rootlets are formed) on each daughter bulb.
Do Daffodils Grow Back Each Year?
Yep. They are perennial bulbs that return year after year in early spring.
Can You Leave Daffodil Bulbs in the Ground All Year?
Yes, you can. Just be aware that they need a cooling off period of three months or so where the ground temperature never or rarely gets above 45 degrees. Without this cooling off period, they won’t flower as prolifically.
Tip: If you live in a warm location, you can dig up the pots and put them in your refrigerator for winter. Then replant them in early spring.
How Many Years Do Daffodils Last?
They are long-lived bulbs and can actually outlive most humans with proper care.
Why Aren’t My Daffodils Blooming Anymore?
Most likely they weren’t able to store enough food in their bulbs during the previous year. You may have noticed that daffodil leaves stay green for a month or so after the plant has finished blooming. During that period, the leaves are sucking up sunlight and other nutrients and storing them as food down in the bulb.
If you cut or mow the leaves during that time, the bulbs probably won’t be able to store enough food to produce any blooms next year. So let the leaves stay until they turn brown and die. Then you can cut them back and discard them.
If that’s not the problem, it could be a soil issue. If your soil is really low quality and you don’t fertilize your plants, they may have used up all the available nutrients. Try giving them some bulb food or bone meal and see if that helps.
Are Daffodils Poisonous?
Yes, but don’t freak out. Most of the poison is located in the bulb, although there is some in the leaves. Most instances of poisoning have been due to people mistaking daffodil bulbs for leeks or onions, then cooking and eating them. People and animals rarely ingest enough for it to be lethal because they have a strong unpleasant taste.
HOWEVER, some animals are dumb enough to gobble up a whole bunch of daffodil leaves, and we all know kids (and probably some adults) are dumb enough to do the same.
Symptoms of toxic consumption are salivation, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is usually enough to eject the poison from the dumb creature’s body within a few hours. But it’s still an excellent idea to go to the vet/ER/witch doctor if you notice these symptoms. And if you notice any neurological or cardiac issues (racing heart, trembling, convulsions, etc.) then you best get to your medical practitioner of choice with the quickness.
Daffodils aren’t totally evil though. They produce a compound that’s used in Alzheimer’s medication and they’ve been used for centuries in traditional medicines for everything from stomach pains to tumors. Plus, their toxicity makes them quite resistant to pests. Finally something the deer won’t eat! (Unless they’re super mega hungry, they’ll eat anything then.)
What Do Daffodils Symbolize?
Some people say that daffodils symbolize narcissism (they’re part of the genus Narcissus), but that’s a bunch of junk.
Narcissus was a jerkface from ancient Greek times who supposedly fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He was too stupid to get up and eat so he died. What does this have to do with daffodils? Supposedly his body magically disappeared and a “white and yellow flower” was left in his spot.
That’s it! Some idiot died and now these happy, beautiful flowers that just happen to be white and yellow symbolize narcissism? What a bunch of garbage. Plus, there’s literally zero evidence in history linking the two. To further confuse things, there’s evidence of plants from the Narcissus genus, including daffodils, growing long before the myth of Narcissus was even written.
Anyway, other people say the word Narcissus comes from the Greek word “narkao” which means either “I grow numb” or “to be numb”. That’s been connected to both the flower’s fragrance and the bulb’s poison.
But what daffodils truly symbolize in these much more enlightened times is rebirth and new beginnings. Since they’re one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, they’re literally a life-affirming symbol that comes after the seemingly endless gray death of winter. That has also linked them to inspiration, forgiveness, overcoming obstacles and success.
So get on outta here Narcissus, we’re busy overcoming obstacles and starting new things.