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Past Articles Library | How to Grow Daffodils

Nothing says spring like daffodils.  These yellow, orange and/or white blooms can be found growing in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 thorough 9.  They can be used to highlight areas between other plantings that are not in full display during this time of year.  They can also be used to create a border or in woodland plants.  This latter can be seen as splashes of color around trees.  The best part of daffodils is their ease. 

Daffodils love sunny locations but they can tolerate partial shade.  As far as the soil goes, they can tolerate a full range of soil types.  But the one thing they are particular about is their soil moisture.  They do require a well draining soil that is moist but not wet during their growing season.  Ok, now that we have the basic knowledge of this bulb, let’s get planting.

How to Plant Daffodils

To begin the planting process, one needs to first locate an area in the garden space or lawn that is well draining and receives full sun to partial shade.  Once that is done, prepare the garden space by turning the soil over, removing weeds, and etc.  Next, decide when you are going to plant the bulbs.  Daffodils need to be planted in the fall before the soil freezes.  Actually, you will need to get them in the ground two to four weeks prior to the soil freezing.  How do you know when this happens?  A good judge is to learn when your local frost date is going to be.  This is normally listed as the first killing frost.  Once you discover this date, simply count back two to four weeks.

After you have that date, you now know when you need to get your bulbs.  On the topic of bulbs, not all bulbs are alike.  In daffodils, size is very important.  Larger bulbs have more food stores and in doing so are stronger bulbs, which is what you want.

Now that you have your bulbs, the next step is to determine how deep to plant the bulbs.  This depth is determined by the size of the bulb.  To determine this, one will need to measure the bulb.  Take the bulb out of its bag and place it on a table.  Measure the height of the bulb.  Very large bulbs should be planted at a depth of five times their height.  Smaller bulbs should only be planted one and a half times their height. 

Once you have determined the height, the next step is to mark off the spacing.  Daffodils can take some crowding but they really like to be placed three to six inches apart.  In doing so, get the yardstick out and measure off the spacing.  Mark the area with stakes or powdered milk.

Next, dig the correct depth hole for each bulb.  Place the root portion of the bulb in the hole first.  Top with a little bulb fertilizer and fill in the hole.  Water in the daffodils and then wait until spring.

Once they have bloomed, remove the spent flower stalk but leave the leaves.  Why do you need to do this?  The leaves will provide food to the bulb, which will be used to start the growing process again.  While I know some people have issues with leaves sticking out in the landscape, there are few things you can do to hide the daffodil leaves.  One, you can plant perennials that will break ground slightly before the flowers dieback.  If that is not possible, conceal the area with a nice planting of annuals.  Both of these techniques will hide the leaves while the bulb is being feed. 

How to Force Daffodils

To begin this process, one will need to purchase your bulbs in the fall.  Daffodils need to be exposed to the cold to get their natural processes going.  This time period is 13 weeks.  In doing so, you will need to bring your bulbs home, place them in a paper bag and store in an unheated garage or place in the fridge.

While the best situation is to allow them to stay in this environment the entire chilling period, it is a little impractical.  To get the best of both worlds, you will need to let them chill for awhile in the paper bag and then plant into a pot to chill the rest of the time.

Now, let’s say four weeks have gone by and you cannot wait to plant them.  The first step of this process is to gather your containers.  They will need to be six to eight inches in diameter and have a drainage hole.  Next, you will need to place drainage material in the bottom of the pot and then fill with soil.  Take one bulb and plant deep enough so that the top of the bulb is just below the rim of the container.  Repeat with the remaining bulbs but never plant more than three or four.  Daffodils do not like to be crowded.

Place the potted container back into its cold storage area.  The total amount of time is 13 weeks.  Once the chilling time as been met, the next step is to bring the container into your home.  Place your planted daffodils in a sunny location.  In three to four weeks, your bulbs should be blooming.  Once the bloom stalk shoots up, remove the container from its sunny location and place in an area that receives indirect sunlight. 

What do you do with your daffodils after they bloom?  Well, many other forced bulbs will not bloom again, daffodils are different.  They can be planted out in the garden space.  In one to two years, they will again bloom.

Diseases and/or Pests of Daffodils

While daffodils are normally not consumed by deer, mice and/or squirrels, they can have a problem with slugs.  There are several different techniques by which to take care of this issue.  Once of the easiest ways to deal with slugs is through hand picking.  This works great if you only have a few bulbs and a few slugs.  Once removed, throw the slugs in a plastic container and freeze.  The frozen slugs can then be placed in your composting bin.  Another way of dealing with slugs is through the creation of a DIY barrier.  While many different tests have been done to evaluate as to whether these barriers actually work, there has really not been a clear cut answer.  In doing so, give them try.  They will not harm the plant.

Two of the easiest barriers are crushed eggshells and wood ashes.  Both of these supposedly create a rough surface that can cut the slug.  The last barrier is copper sheeting.  This is laid down on the ground around the bulbs.


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Purple Knight Alternanthera

This ground cover likes partial sun to full sun.

It grows 16 to 20 inches (40-50 cm) tall, and 2 to 3 feet (60-90 cm) wide. It is very heat tolerant.

Its beautiful purple leaves make an excellent accent plant in the garden.

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