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How to Plant & Grow Daffodils

Daffodils are the quintessential signs of spring. They ambitiously emerge from the soil even on the chilliest of March days, eagerly poking through the snow and symbolizing new beginnings and fortitude. Their cheerful yellow or white blooms have such a sunny disposition and easily raise the spirits of all who grow them or receive them in a bouquet of cut flowers.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the woodlands vibe and vibrant spirit that daffodils bring to the garden bed. They are a bulbous plant, and when planted and cared for properly, daffodils will return each spring for many years to come. Follow our guide on how to plant daffodil bulbs so you can brighten up your flower beds with these tall and lively bloomers.

Yellow daffodils in springtime flower garden.

Ideal Soil Composition & pH for Planting Daffodils

Narcissus bulbs grow optimally in soil that is loose, loamy, fertile, and most of all, well-draining. Select a spot in your garden where water whisks away quickly, as soggy soil will inevitably rot bulbs out.

Aim for slightly acidic soil with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0 when planting daffodils. If you are uncertain of your soil quality, visit your local extension office with a soil sample. They will test your soil and let you know your soil pH, soil type, and offer suggestions for soil amendments.

Light & Temperature Requirements for Growing Daffodils

When asking how to plant daffodil bulbs, it’s crucial to consider light and temperature. Daffodils grow their best when they are planted in full sun with some dappled afternoon shade. They are hardy in zones 3-9. Always add a couple of layers of organic mulch to give daffodil plants added protection against the cold weather.

When to Plant Daffodil Bulbs

The best time to plant daffodil bulbs is in mid to late fall, a couple of weeks before a hard frost in your area. They require a cold period of winter to form their spring blooms. You should start to see pointy green shoots emerging from the ground in early spring, followed by happy flowers, which reach their peak about three weeks after the last frost.  Aim for September planting in colder climates and November for warmer grow zones.

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How to Plant Daffodil Bulbs

Daffodils can be planted in pots and containers or in the ground. The only difference is how to care for the bulbs after they bloom and over the winter months. Daffodils that are planted in pots should be later transferred into the ground or dug up after the foliage turns yellow and stored in a cool, dry space until fall bulb planting time. Bulbs that are planted in the ground can be left in place. Follow these steps on how to plant daffodil bulbs for success.

spring gardening primrose, daffodils and herbs

 Planting Daffodil Bulbs

  • When choosing daffodil bulbs for planting, select bulbs that are large, firm to the touch, and have a dry paper-like covering on the outside.
  • Always check the planting instructions for the variety of bulbs you are planting for planting depth. A good rule of thumb is to dig holes that are twice the depth of the height of the bulb. This usually translates to 4-6 inches deep. Space them equally as far apart from each other as they are deep.
  • Add organic bulb fertilizer that is low in nitrogen to the hole and mix it into the soil. Do not allow the fertilizer to come in direct contact with the bulb.
  • Place one bulb in each hole with the root side down and the pointed side facing upward.
  • Cover thoroughly with loose soil and a layer of organic mulch to keep them well protected through the upcoming winter.
  • Water the area thoroughly.

Watering Daffodil Bulbs

As we consider how to plant daffodil bulbs, we must also consider how to care for them after planting. Watering daffodils is key to successful growth. Keep them well watered throughout the growing season so that soil remains moist but not soggy. Once plants bloom, you can stop watering them, allowing the foliage to dry out and yellow.

Watering your bulb planted areas in the fall can help protect bulbs from freezing temperatures. Water expands the plant cells within the bulbs and helps to protect the plant from internal freezing. Water also helps the soil around the bulbs remain more insulated.

Key Nutrients for Growing Daffodils

Upon planting, it can be beneficial to add some bone meal into the hole before inserting your bulbs into the ground. Once in the ground, daffodils are relatively low maintenance. If your soil is on the more inferior quality side of things, you can side-dress new shoots with well-decomposed compost and bone meal to give plants a boost. Avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen.

white daffodils in spring garden

Common Daffodil Pests & Disease

Daffodil plants are relatively pest and disease-free. However, we’ve listed a common pest and disease to watch out for below. They are deer resistant and low maintenance garden performers.

  • Basal Rot
  • Narcissus Fly

Growing Daffodils

Whether you are new to gardening or looking to add more lively blooms to your garden beds, daffodils are a top-notch plant to grow. These perennial showstoppers will rise out of the ground year after year, producing more sister bulbs as time passes. They look lovely planted densely in sections of the garden or in rows that line a walkway and are easy to grow and care for.

Daffodils are thrilling to watch bloom in early spring, but they only bloom one time each year. You may wonder what to do with the foliage that’s left behind once the flowers have faded.  Once your daffodils have bloomed, allow the foliage to dry out and yellow. You can tie the vegetation back, so it is tidier, but it is unnecessary to do so. Never cut off the foliage while it is green. The bulb absorbs all of the energy from the plant back into its core to produce future blooms.

Now that you know how to plant daffodils, you can enjoy growing daffodils in your garden and marvel at how they ambitiously forge forward despite the frosty conditions that can be prevalent in the springtime.

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