The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.
Narcissus, like most bulbs, require very little care. Always purchase top quality bulbs, unless you plan to naturalize them. For such a broad planting, choose less expensive narcissus bulbs, which are typically slightly smaller than top grade ones. After they have bloomed, pinch off the dead flowers, leaving the stems and leaves to gradually die back. While they are not very attractive during this period, narcissus are storing nutrients and energy for the next season. Do not cut them back or mow if they are in the lawn, until well into June when the leaves are yellowed. If they are planted among other green shrubs, ground covers, or perennials the dying leaves are less obvious.
Narcissus don't need much water while they're flowering, but water them regularly later, if rainfall is skimpy, to encourage rooting and help the bulb store up nutrients for next season. During hot, dry weather, water bulb beds thoroughly once a week along with other ornamental plantings. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment
Narcissus, 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 plant foliage. Do NOT feed narcissus immediately after they flower, this just encourages disease. The fall feeding is the most important, because it encourages root growth for next spring.
Mulching and Weed Control
A 1 or 2 inch layer of an organic material like 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. More than 2 inches of mulch will force the narcissus stems to travel too far to reach the light next spring. For more information see the file on Using Mulch
Acquire more narcissus by dividing the ones you have. Each year narcissus bulbs produce smaller bulbs, or "offsets", attached to the parent bulb. After 3 or 4 years in the bed, narcissus bulbs become crowded clumps and need to be divided. Smaller flowers and weaker plants signal this. Dig up the bulbs only after the foliage turns brown early in the summer. Carefully shake the soil off the roots, and put them in a basket or rack in a shady spot to dry off for a couple of days. Then separate the offsets from the parent bulbs and replant all the bulbs. It may be a year or two before the offsets bloom.