Plant Daffodils once, enjoy for decades 5/5 (3)

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Bright colors of daffodils, their resistance to frost and pests as well as their hardiness without maintenance make these perennials almost a must on any yard or homestead in nearly any region. [1] They are among the first to bloom in the spring attracting a lot of bees and other pollinators before many other plants, shrubs, and trees get their flowers and green canopy. Daffodil’s petal-like tepals with a trumpet-shaped corona resemble small stars or miniature messengers from our Sun helping us get over our winter blues after long colorless winter months. They inspired me to write a short poem that I submitted as a contest entry on Your Green Homestead that was later used as lyrics for a song.

Action Items

Spring – Look for an appropriate spot in your yard where you would like to plant your daffodils and/or day lilies, peonies or other succession flowers that you want to bloom after daffodils in the same spot. Mark the chosen spot(s) with a stick or any other way that would remind you in the fall the location for the fall planting. If you already have daffodils, it will be hard to locate them in the fall since their foliage wilts by early summer.

Fall – Since most flower bulbs are usually planted in the fall, please prepare the bulbs, seedlings, roots, and/or seeds of the flowers/plants that you would like to plant together with daffodils, and use the simple instructions below for planting them at an appropriate depth (about 6 inches for an average daffodil bulb).

Tens of thousands of daffodil cultivars ranging from dwarf varieties (5 cm tall with flowers 1.2 cm wide) to giant (80 cm tall with flowers 12.5 cm wide) mainly originated from about 150 daffodil species classified to belong to the genus Narcissus, tribe Narcisseae, family Amaryllidaceae, and order Asparagales [2].

Summary of information from references [3] and [4]

If you choose to collect, store, and sprout seeds from your flowers (not only daffodils), it is recommended to dry them after harvest to below 8 percent moisture level (about a week at room temperature). For additional tips, please see reference [5].

A lot more popular method of planting and propagating daffodils and other bulbous flowers is by asexual cloning using their sister/daughter, baby, embryo, or cut bulbs. This method produces uniform color patch of the same hybridized cultivars and/or heirloom species.

Summary of information from references [6], [7], and [8]
One mature bulb can have several bulb units

While the daffodil bulb matures, it may contain a number of branched bulb units, each of which has a life of about four years. This is how one bulb can have several flower stalks. After these bulb units die off, new ones form, and the same bulb lasts several decades without any intervention. [3]


For daffodils to flower at the end of the winter or early spring, bulbs are planted in autumn (September–November depending on the zone). They prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil with pH of 6.5–7.0. A cold treatment—natural or induced—is needed for flower bud initiation.

How to plant daffodils

Clumps of various bulbs, such as alliums, Muscari spp., narcissi, tulips and tulbaghia, are best divided every three years or so (optional). Where they have become well established, you will be amazed by the proliferation that has occurred. Lift the bulbs during the summer dormancy and tease them apart carefully, replanting the largest bulbs as needed. [9]

Layering of flower bulbs

Charts from reference [10]

If you’d like to grow daffodils in a pot, the instructions in reference [11] might be useful.

Did you know?

Unlike Tulips, narcissi bulbs are not attractive to rodents and are sometimes planted near tree roots in orchards to protect them. [12]

Sequential blooming / succession planting

Daffodils are well suited for planting under small thickets of trees, where they can be grouped as 6–12 bulbs. They also grow well in perennial borders, especially in association with daylilies which begin to form their leaves as the narcissi flowers are fading. [12] Although daylilies are perennials and not flower bulbs, they do not root into the bulbs to scavenge nutrients, so this powerful planting method is entirely safe. Daffodils and daylilies share common light and water requirements. [10]

Similar sequential blooming with hidden fading foliage of daffodils could be achieved with planting perennial peonies. Both daffodils and peonies are usually planted in autumn at about the same time. If you already have daffodils and would like to add peonies next to them or vice versa, make sure to mark daffodils’ (or peonies’) location in the spring since their foliage will be gone by the end of summer, and it will be difficult to determine their exact location in autumn.

In cold climate gardens, plant a peony with Oriental lilies and ornithogalum Star of Bethlehem. The lilies appreciate the shade cast by the peony foliage on the soil where the bulb is planted, but will bloom well above the peony. The Star of Bethlehem is a first class weaver, and forms starry blooms around the bare “ankles” of the peony. This is a planting recipe for years and years of increasing beauty and fragrance! [10]

A number of wild species and hybrids of Daffodils such as “Dutch Master”, “Golden Harvest”, “Carlton”, “Kings Court” and “Yellow Sun” naturalise well in lawns, but it is important not to mow the lawn till the leaves start to fade, since they are essential for nourishing the bulb for the next flowering season. Blue Scilla and Muscari which also naturalise well in lawns and flower at the same time as narcissus, make an attractive contrast to the yellow flowers of the latter. [12]

Did you know?

In the 1990s narcissus bulb production was at 260 million, sixth in size after tulips, gladioli, irises, crocuses and lilies, and in 2012 it was ranked third. All narcissi produce a number of different alkaloids, which provide some protection from deer, fungi, and other pests but may be poisonous if accidentally ingested. This property has been exploited for medicinal use in traditional healing and has resulted in the production of galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia. [2] New research also shows some effectiveness of galantamine in the treatment of organophosphate poisoning, autism, and side effects of some anesthetics. [12]














Note from Your Green Homestead

If you know local provider(s) of daffodil bulbs and other flowers – especially wild and/or heirloom varieties for your area, we would love to list their member profiles on Your Green Homestead for your convenience and link them to this post. We also would like to hear your feedback about this summary of information in the comments area below and/or through public Forums and/or private messaging on Your Green Homestead to Natalia‘s profile.

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