FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DAFFODILS
When should daffodil leaves be cut back?
Wait until most of the foliage has turned yellow. Do not braid daffodil leaves or fold them under for a neat appearance; this will deprive the bulbs of energy they need to rebuild for bloom next year.
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In the spring daffodils do not need much water while they are flowering. Water them in the weeks afterward, if rainfall is skimpy, to encourage rooting and help the bulb store up nutrients for next season. During hot, dry summer weather, water bulb beds along with flowers, trees and shrubs thoroughly once a week. In the fall if you plant the bulbs just before a good soaking rain, supplemental watering will not be necessary. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment
Daffodils, like most bulbs, do best when fed twice a year--in the early fall and again in the early spring just after they have emerged from the ground. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of granular fertilizer per bulb or a slight handful per clump on the soil near them. Avoid getting the fertilizer on the plant foliage.
Do NOT feed daffodils immediately after they flower; this just encourages disease. The fall feeding is the most important, because it encourages root growth for next spring. Use a fertilizer formulated for bulbs, but do not use commercially packaged bonemeal. Most of the beneficial nutrients have been lost from these products during their processing.
A 1 or 2 inch layer of an organic material such as chopped leaves, shredded bark, or wood chips, spread over the bulb bed as a mulch, controls weeds and conserves soil moisture. Mulching also prevents dirt from splashing up on the flowers when they are in bloom.
A winter mulch helps buffer soil temperature fluctuations that cause it to heave and disturb bulbs. Use organic material and/or evergreen boughs. Remove mulch from bulb beds if it is deeper than 2 inches in the spring so the soil can warm and the daffodil stems can emerge easily. For more information see the file on Using Mulch
Remove spent flower heads as soon as they fade to improve the appearance of the plants and prevent possible virus and fungal problems. It is extremely important to allow plant foliage to completely die back before removing it. Do not tie it or braid it. Leaves need to be free so their surfaces can soak up the sun over the next few weeks and store energy in the bulb for next year’s blooms. Allow the leaves to ripen, turn yellow and flop. Then clean them up. To mask the unsightly aging foliage, plant bulbs among evergreen groundcovers and other plants that will be growing up around it as the spring progresses.
Propagation of Daffodils
Over the years daffodil bulbs produce smaller bulbs, called “splits” or “offsets”, which are attached to the parent bulb. Eventually, after 3 or 4 years in the ground, daffodils clumps become crowded, producing smaller flowers and weaker plants. This is a signal that it is time to divide, or thin them.
Dig the bulbs up after their foliage yellows and flops late in the spring. Shake the soil off the roots, and put the bulbs on a rack or in a basket in a cool spot out of the sun for a few days to dry off. Then gently separate the offsets from the parent bulbs. It is most convenient to immediately replant them all, although most growers agree that it is better to allow for a dormancy period between digging and replanting. If you choose to delay replanting store the bulbs over the summer in mesh bags, in a cool, well-ventilated place. Then replant in the fall when you plant other bulbs. Offsets will not bloom for a year or two.