Coming out of a cold, brutal winter, you may be desperately looking for signs of spring. The bright yellow emergence of daffodils is a true sign that warmer days are ahead. To ensure your garden is full of this lovely, early spring flower, find out just when to plant daffodils.
When to plant daffodils? When the rest of your garden is preparing to become dormant, now is the time to plant daffodil bulbs. Strike while the ground is cool but not frozen and get your daffodil bulbs sorted.
There are many varieties to choose from, including flowers bold in color that tower over everything, and those that are more diminutive and whiter in color. While you don’t need to do too much to get your daffodils to grow, you do want to find a sunny space where the soil has good drainage.
Add a bit of fertilizer or bone meal and plant your bulbs. If you live in a colder climate, add some mulch or extra soil to protect them from the cold.
Then, simply wait and be astounded come March when they burst into color.
Planting Daffodils in Different Climates
Unfortunately, tropical climates bring with them a lot of moisture which isn’t conducive to growing daffodils. These flowers need soil with really good drainage and if there is too much moisture, the bulbs can start to rot.
Furthermore, daffodil bulbs need to go into a hibernation state over winter. Most tropical climates don’t have winter, so the bulbs won’t be able to recharge between growing seasons.
Daffodils can grow in a dry climate but they need certain conditions met. First, the dry climate needs to be cold for a season. This allows the bulbs to take root, and once it warms up, they know to start growing.
Second, you will need to supplement the area with water. Daffodils don’t need a lot of water but they do need enough for nourishment. If not, they will not grow and certainly won’t bloom.
Daffodils can definitely grow in a temperate climate. The winters are cold enough for the bulbs and once spring comes, they know to start growing.
A temperate climate can have heavy rainfall in the fall and spring, so be sure to properly prepare the soil area so there is adequate drainage.
In a continental climate, daffodils can grow but their growing season may be altered a bit. You may need to plant the bulbs earlier than suggested, such as late September, if you have early, cold winters that freeze the ground.
Then, once spring does arrive, expect daffodils to be a bit later to bloom, usually not until mid-April. Also, spring may be dry and if so, give your daffodils some extra water.
Daffodils cannot be grown in a polar climate.
Choosing Daffodil Bulbs
In addition to the beauty that daffodils bring, there is also a practical reason for selecting these flowers for your front garden. Daffodils are deer resistant and a deterrent from pests.
This is because daffodils are a part of the narcissus family, which can actually be toxic to some animals. So, if you crave flowers but are tired of deer and rabbits eating your plants, daffodils are a great option.
There are many types of daffodil bulbs and having a mix of them can really excite your garden. If you’re looking for that classic bright yellow appearance, try Golden Ducats, which grow to be 12 to 14 inches in height, and bloom early to mid-spring.
Another favorite is Petit Four which prefer a shadier part of your garden. They have white petals with a bold golden middle color and grow to be 16 inches tall.
Finally, for those looking for a bit of depth variety, try Rip van Winkle bulbs. They are only 6 to 8 inches tall and have a golden yellow color.
How to Plant Daffodil Bulbs
Daffodils bloom in the spring, or even late winter, but in order for this to happen they need to be planted in the fall. Aim to plant two to four weeks before the ground is frozen.
It’s ok if there has been a light frost. Early October is generally a good time to plant, but if you live in a very cold climate with an early winter, aim for September to plant your bulbs.
Start by finding an area of your garden that has partial sun to full sun. The nice thing is that many areas of your garden will have this feature in early spring, before trees grow their leaves and become too dense for sunlight to penetrate.
Daffodils are fairly easy to grow as they are not too picky about the soil they live in. You do want the soil to be well fertilized, so feel free to add some organic matter to your garden before planting.
Furthermore, daffodils do best in well-drained soil. In fact, the bulbs are susceptible to rot so if you live in a very wet climate, pay attention to this need.
Finally, most daffodil varieties prefer a more acidic soil but there are some varieties that prefer alkaline soils. Check the variety of bulbs you have purchased for specific needs.
Once you have the best place to plant your daffodils, it’s time to get digging. Some daffodil bulbs can be quite large so you will need to dig holes deep enough to accommodate them.
Aim for a depth that is double the length of your bulb. So, if the bulb measures 2 inches, dig a hole that is at least 4 inches deep.
Place the bulb with the pointy tip facing upwards. If you’re worried about the quality of your soil, you can also place a bit of bulb fertilizer in the hole.
Daffodils don’t need to be spaced too far apart, but still aim for at least 3 inches. Daffodils will continue to grow each year and some may produce “daughter” bulbs which lead to small clumps of flowers, so the spacing allows for this to happen.
How to Water Daffodils
Overall, your daffodils shouldn’t need much water. The amount of water they do need is entirely dependent on your climate.
If you are planting bulbs in a wet climate, then the natural fall and winter seasons should provide them with plenty of rainfall. However, if you live in a drier climate, you may want to water once they are planted and then monitor your plants once spring hits.
If it is too dry in the later winter or early spring, your bulbs may not flower. This is especially true for varieties that are late-flowering.
How to Grow Daffodils
Once you have planted your daffodils, you will want to place a layer of covering over the soil. These bulbs need to withstand the winter in order to grow, and if you live in a cold climate, they need extra protection.
A layer of mulch is recommended, or you can add extra soil or even a bed of fallen leaves. Don’t worry too much about the daffodils growing up through this covering. They are pretty strong and will find their way to the surface.
You can definitely leave your bulbs in the ground once the daffodils have stopped flowering. However, there are a few steps to take first. After the flowers have bloomed, you can always deadhead them for a tidier appearance.
Daffodils are also nice as cut flowers and sometimes they can even be ready for a pretty Easter bouquet.
It’s important, though, to leave the plants alone until they die off. Just because the daffodil flowers are over, doesn’t mean the plant is done with.
In fact, daffodil bulbs rely on at least six weeks of growth to provide nutrients to the bulbs. If this isn’t allowed to happen, the bulbs will not be renourished and will not provide flowers the next year.
After you have waited six weeks, it is time to cut back your daffodils. Simply take some gardening shears and snip the plant off at the base, just at the level of the soil.
Daffodils can take a lot of nutrients from the soil so sprinkle some bone meal in your garden to prepare for next season’s flowers.
How long does it take for daffodils to grow?
About six months after you plant daffodil bulbs, they will start to grow. Once the plants start to pop out of the ground, you should expect flowers in about six weeks.
What is the best month to plant daffodil bulbs?
The best month to plant daffodil bulbs is early October. This should be enough time where it is starting to get cold but the ground hasn’t frozen over yet.
Generally, November is too late and September is too early. However, each climate is different so pay attention to the history of frost and freezing, and plant accordingly.
Daffodils are a sure sign that spring is sprung. These bold yellow flowers sprout up as if by magic, although expert gardeners know it was all due to being prepared and planting the bulbs back in the fall.