How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (2024)

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How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (1)

Caption

Yellow daffodils, ‘Jetfire’ Narcissus, in flower in earlyspring

Photo Credit

Alex Manders/Shutterstock

Botanical Name

Narcissus spp.

Plant Type

Flower

Sun Exposure

Full Sun

Part Sun

Soil pH

Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Bloom Time

Spring

Flower Color

Orange

White

Yellow

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Planting, Growing, and Caring for Daffodils

Catherine Boeckmann

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (2)

Nothing heralds spring like the cheerful daffodil! These sunshine-yellow flowers emerge at winter’s end to lift our spirits. Plus, daffodils are deer- and rodent-resistant bulbs (unlike tulips)! Learn more about how and when to plant daffodils—and the delightful variety of choices, from the classic yellow variety to minidaffodils.

AboutDaffodils

Daffodils are hardy perennials that come back year after year, spreading and often naturalizing.They arefall-planted bulbsusually planted in October, and the flowers bloom in late winter or early spring. (They are the March birth flower, after all!)Most daffodils grow easily in most regions of North America, except in the hottest, wettest areas, such as SouthFlorida.

There are thousands of daffodil varieties. The traditional daffodil flowermay be a showy yellow or white,with six petals and a trumpet-shaped central corona. Still, many cultivated varieties (“cultivars”) existtoday if youfancy experimenting with a more exotic double, frilled, or bicolornarcissus.

Daffodils are suitable for planting between shrubs, on a border, or even in pots. We especially love daffodils in a woodland garden and large groves. You’ll find that many gardeners plant the bulbs not just by the dozens but by the hundreds! Daffodil flowers can also be forced inside to add cheer to the winter months, making great springtimecutflowers.

Choosing DaffodilBulbs

Select high-quality daffodil bulbs that have not been dried out. The larger the bulb, thebetter.

DutchGrown™ bulbs are of the highest quality, ensuring optimum performance. You probably haven’t seen daffodils bigger than their top-sized daffodils bulbs. See where to buy daffodil bulbs.

Read Next

  • March Birth Flower: Daffodils!

  • The Best Flower Bulbs to Plant in the Fall

  • How to Grow Tulips: The Complete Tulip Flower Guide

Planting

Daffodils do best in full sun, though they will grow in partial shade. They’re generally not picky about soil, but good drainage is vital as they are susceptible to rot when kept too wet. Hillsides and raised beds work well. Otherwise, improve clay soil by amending it (12 inches deep) withorganic material such as well-rottedcompost.

When to PlantDaffodils

  • Plant daffodil bulbs in the fall—at least2 to 4 weeks before the ground freezes. See local frost dates.

How to PlantDaffodils

  • Plant the bulb with the top (pointy end)set about 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. For example, the top of a 2-inchbulb should beabout 4 inchesin the ground,while a 3-inch bulbshould be planted 5 to6inchesdeep.
  • Where winters are severe, make sure there are at least 3 inches of soil covering thebulb.
  • Daffodils will tolerate crowding, but they prefer to be placed about 3 to 6 inchesapart.
  • It may help to sprinkle a little bulb fertilizer in the hole during planting. Learn more about preparing soil for planting.
  • Resist the temptation to uncover spring-flowering plants such as daffodils and tulips. You can loosen mulch, but the shoots will still benefit from protection against cold, dryingwinds in earlyspring.
  • Daffodils contain something called oxalic acid—a substance that makes them unpalatable to most rodent pests. However, if yours are being bothered, consider adding sharp pieces of shells or a pelleted rodent deterrent into and around each plantinghole.

Growing

  • Apply a low-nitrogen, high-potash (potassium) fertilizer after flowering if bulbs are not performing as desired. Learn more about preparing the soil for planting andsoil amendments.
  • Water late-flowering daffodils in dry spring weather (flowers may abort in dryconditions).
  • Lift and divide the clumps when flowering becomes sparse or the clumpscongested.

After DaffodilsBloom

  • After the flowers fade, you can deadhead (pinch off) the fadedflowers.
  • However, do NOT remove the leaves until they turn yellow. Daffodils use their leaves to store energy in the bulbs for next year’s flower. The plant continues to absorb nutrients for about 6 weeks after the flowers have faded. If you cut or mow them back too early, they will not bloom nextyear.
  • Keep watering the plants even if the blooms havefaded.
  • Once the leaves have yellowed and died back naturally, you can snip off the dead leaves at the base (or pull lightly while twisting the leaves). You can also mow the area withoutworry.
  • Once daffodils (and tulips) have gone by, add bonemeal to the soil for next year’sblooms.

If the dying leaves offend your sensibility, plant other bulbs, such as daffodils, daylilies, or true lilies, in the same area so they hide the fadingfoliage.

Types

According to the American Daffodil Society, there are 13 official daffodil flower types and more than 25,000 namedcultivars!

Whatever variety you choose, the most important tip is: Get the best quality bulbs for the best flowers. The bigger the bulbs, the better. Look for top-size bulbs, the biggest bulbs on themarket.

  • ‘Dutch Master’is the classic daffodil—big and yellow with a very large cup and oversize trumpets. They bloom early,naturalize easily, and are great for planting inmasses.

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (3)

  • ‘Barrett Browning’ is the recognizable pure white daffodil with a bright orange trumpet surrounded by a golden halo. They bloom early,naturalize easily, and do well in warmer climates,too.

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (4)

  • Tahiti’ is a stunner with layers of rounded, golden yellow petals interspersed with frilly, red-orange accents. They bloom mid to late season, last longer, and make an excellent cutflower.

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (5)

  • ‘Tete a Tete’ is an adorable mini daffodil that blooms early and blooms for weeks as one of the most long-blooming varieties. Ideal for flower beds and containers and naturalizes withease.

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (6)

  • ‘Jetfire’ is another mini daffodil with bright orange cups and swept-back yellow petals. It blooms in early spring, is very long-lasting, and doesn’t flopover.

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (7)

  • Petit Four’ is a good choice for a partially shady site. The flower has white petals with a double cup of apricot pink and grows 16inchestall.
  • ‘Cheerfulness’ bears double flowers and multiple blooms per stem; this daffodil is very fragrant with a lovely gardenia-like scent. Blooms in late spring and makes an excellent cutflower.
  • ‘Thalia’ is an all-white daffodil, making it wonderful for moon gardens. Learn about 20 pure white flowers to include in your garden.

See plenty more varietieshere!

Harvesting

  • When cutting daffodils, keeping these flowers in their own vase is best as their stems secrete a fluid that promotes the wilting of other flowers. If you must combine them, soak them by themselves for as long as possible, then rinse them and add them to the arrangement last. Learn more about keeping cut flowers fresh.
  • Note that contact with the sap of daffodils may irritate skin or aggravate skinallergies.

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Wit and Wisdom

  • Daffodils are aMarch birth flower.
  • Daffodils symbolize regard for someone. Seemore flower meanings.

Here’s some daffodil-themed prose to brighten yourday:

“Daffodowndilly”
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were VeryYoung

Daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty.
–William Shakespeare, The Winter’sTale

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
–William Wordsworth, I Wander’d Lonely as aCloud

Of Spring Weather:
Chillier, but daffodillier.
The 1991 Old Farmer’sAlmanac

Pests/Diseases

  • Daffodils are both deer-resistant and rodent-proof,as these animalsdo not like the taste of the bulbs in the Narcissusfamily.
  • Daffodils can also betoxic to pets, so make sure your animals don’t munch onthem.
  • The most common problems include large narcissus bulb fly, bulb scale mites, narcissus nematode, slugs, narcissus basal rot, and other fungal infections andviruses.

Flowers

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

How to Grow Daffodils: The Complete Daffodil Flower Guide (9)

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Comments

Add a Comment

Someone gave me around 30 bulbs in December, which was too late to plant. Tonight is our last cold night. Someone told me before I plant to soak the bulbs in water. I'm going to plant them this weekend in several areas. Some say sun, some say shade. I realize since I'm planting now I won't get any blooms this year. Is this correct? Please help me, I would love to plant.

  • Reply

Hi, Beverly. As long as the bulbs are healthy and have been stored at above freezing temperatures, you can certainly plant them as soon as the ground in workable. You will likely get only leaves this year, but flowers should come along next year. Goodluck!

  • Reply

I have a front garden of daffodils. For 20 years they were bright yellow but for the last 4 years are now white petal and light yellow middles. Any idea what happened? Still beautiful and have 2 new bright yellow bunches this year but it’s just amazing.

  • Reply

There are some daffodil varieties that change color as they mature. But you are talking about daffodils that changed after four years. Many daffodil colors will indeed fade after a few years, usually from a bright yellow to more white as the years goby.

  • Reply

Haven't planted any in long time although favorite because purchased and planted 3 bushels of King Alfred Daffodils only to have the squirrels dig them up and they ravished/tore/shredded the bulbs to pieces within only a couple of days and left the chunks and pieces of bulbs strewn about everywhere. Rodent resistant? I really don't believe so, but sure wish it were true! :(

  • Reply

I've had daffs in my front gardens for 2 years. This year I needed to drastically amend the garden soil, so I dug up the bulbs in September or October and put them in pots (outside). I figured that would keep them dormant until I was ready to put them back into the ground. The weather has been mild most of the fall, and apparently they all decided it was spring already! I have 3 smallish pots with a half dozen sprouts each - help! what do I do with them now?
I don't want to put them back in the garden, it's abruptly going to drop to freezing next week. I suppose I could bring them in the house and let them grow and bloom indoors, but I don't really have a good place to put them. Other ideas?

  • Reply

Update: I put them on shelves in the garage, and a couple of weeks later they started really taking off. So I brought the silly things in to a countertop in the master bath. Ta-da! They've started blooming already! One pot is noticeably behind the other two, so I expect the overall display will last for quite a while. Once spring arrives OUTside I'll put them back in those gardens and hope they hibernate properly this time.

  • Reply

My daffodils near my stone wall are being overtaken by broad leaf weeds. Since daffodils appear to be a monocot, is is safe to use a broad leaf weed killer on them to control broad leaf weeds?

  • Reply

Last spring all the flower buds got hit with a frost, they turned brown and never did flower. This year I have no buds, is it because of last years frost?
Thank you,
Pat

  • Reply

Can daffodils that have bloomed survive indoors? If so how is this accomplished?
Thank you for your time!

  • Reply
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