For many gardeners, large bright blooms of Daffodils are the first visible signs of spring. These vigorous, long-lived bulbs thrive in sunny, well-drained places, are shunned by hungry deer and voles, and will prosper and multiply with little care on your part, creating a glorious Daffodil landscape and a horticultural legacy. Whether it's a stretch of grass along the drive or behind a swing set, or the ground beneath a stand of Apple trees, you can create magic by naturalizing Daffodils in most any space. At the front of the border choose daintier Daffodils with narrow leaves (generally from the Triandrus and Jonquilla sections) and shorter varieties from our Miniature Daffodils.
One of our customer favorites has the whole spectrum of Daffodil types: Double, Large-cupped, Small-cupped, Trumpet, Jonquilla, Split-corona, Tazetta, Poeticus - in other words, just about every type except Miniatures. The Works - Narcissus for Naturalizing comprises 100 large bulbs of the best and most vigorous modern Daffodils, blended from no less than 30 varieties, no more than five of each.
These are the classic flowers of spring, the ones that come to mind when you imagine a "host of golden Daffodils." Trumpets are the best Daffodils for bedding, with a single big, bold flower per stem. They generally perform better in the middle and northern states then they do in the Deep South. A Daffodil is officially classified as a Trumpet when the cup, or corona, is as long as or longer than the perianth. Some common varieties are 'Dutch Master', the successor to the venerable 'King Alfred' as the all-around best Daffodil money can buy, and 'Mount Hood', an outstanding white Trumpet that made its debut in 1937 and has continued to win awards over the years.
These are the workhorses of the Daffodil world because they're good for every possible use: bedding, cutting, naturalizing, forcing, and showing. This class includes the full color range: white, every shade of yellow, orange, red, and pink. All bear one flower per stem with two or more stems per bulb.
Instead of a trumpet, these Daffodils have a central cluster of petals and are almost roselike in form. Doubles have from one to as many as 20 flowers per stem and are good for show, bedding, and cutting.
Several small, fragrant flowers per stem are held above narrow, grasslike, dark green leaves. The bulbs naturalize well, creating beautiful sweeps of color. This Daffodil group likes hot, baking summer sun. It is well adapted to the Deep South but also thrives in cooler parts of the country. There are two or more stems per bulb.
This group includes every form of Daffodil flower in a petite package, usually 6in or shorter. These little bulbs are excellent for rock gardens, the front of the border, niches between tree roots, and forcing. They are also beautiful in patio containers if protected from freezing north of Zone 7. The bulbs vary in size, but most are the largest grade available and produce two or more flower stems per bulb.
Crisp, brilliant colors characterize this group of long-lived perennials. They are great for naturalizing and contribute rich color to a mixed border in the spring. The flowers are also superb for cutting. Each stem bears a single flower.
These are unusual flowers, quite unlike most Daffodils. The cup is split for at least one-half its length, creating an open face instead of the typical trumpet. Many of the flowers look more like a Hibiscus than they do a Daffodil. One of the showiest groups for mass plantings in the landscape, these large, up-facing blossoms provide more color for the dollar.
Daffodils - How to Care for Your Bulbs
Light/Watering: While Daffodils prefer full sun they will usually tolerate half-day shade, especially Cyclamineus hybrids such as 'Jack Snipe' and the Poeticus variety 'Actaea.' Those cultivars with orange, red, or pink cups generally retain deeper color when planted in a location that receives protection from the hot afternoon sun. Watering during the fall is essential for good root growth before the ground freezes in cold regions. Try not to water excessively in the summer months when bulbs are dormant.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Daffodil bulbs will not survive in soils that are wet, especially during the winter. Avoid low-lying areas where water gathers or where the snow is late to melt in spring. Plant bulbs at a depth three times their height. Daffodil bulbs appreciate deep planting in light soil. If your soil is heavy, try planting less deeply than we recommend, making up the difference with a layer of mulch on top. Plant larger or bedding-size bulbs 5-6 in. apart (4-5 bulbs per sq. ft.), smaller or landscape-size bulbs 3-4 in. apart (5 bulbs per sq. ft.), and the miniatures 3-4 in. apart (10-15 bulbs per sq. ft.). When planting, keep in mind that the blooms tend to face the prevailing direction of the sun; in a border viewed from the north, they will look away from you. Do not separate bulbs that are attached at the base; the smaller bulb (known as an off-set or a "daughter" bulb) should not be detached from the parent bulb before planting. The best time to fertilize is in the autumn, when the bulbs are sending out new roots. To make clumps of Daffodils easy to find, plant a few Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) amongst them; the Grape Hyacinths send up a bit of leaf growth in the fall. The next best time to fertilize is in early spring, just as the Daffodil foliage begins to push through the soil. We recommend using a granular slow-release fertilizer formulated especially for bulbs.
Pests/Diseases: Few if any pests bother Daffodils. The bulbs and foliage are poisonous to most insects and animals, including deer and voles. If you see vertical streaks in the Daffodil leaves, dig up the bulb and put it in the trash as it may be infected with a virus. Watch any surrounding Daffodils for symptoms as the virus is spread by contact.
Companions: Narcissus reach dormancy 6 to 12 weeks after flowering depending on weather and variety. The period between the end of flowering and the withering of the foliage is crucial to the future vigor of the plant. If you cut, fold, or braid the leaves before they have yellowed and collapsed, you may prevent the bulb from storing the energy required to bloom the following year. You can hide curing foliage by interplanting bulbs with leafy perennials such as Hostas, Daylilies, and Ferns or with annuals or ground covers like Brunnera or Vinca. If you plant the bulbs in a lawn, do not mow the grass until the bulb foliage begins to yellow. Daffodils do well under deciduous trees, but avoid planting under evergreens and in areas where large roots are close to the surface.
Dividing/Transplanting: The best time to move or divide bulbs is when their foliage has withered, signaling the end of active growth. Lift them with a digging fork or a spade, taking care to avoid injuring the bulbs, and replant them immediately at the same depth and about three times their diameter apart. Water well.
End of Season Care: Remove dried up foliage after it has died down completely. A mulch of evergreen boughs after the ground freezes may help plants stay dormant if warm periods occur during the winter months.
Calendar of Care
Early Spring: Fertilize now if you missed the fall opportunity.
Late Spring: Water if the season has been dry, and deadhead as needed. Watch for vertical lines in the foliage and remove and destroy any bulbs showing signs of viral infection.
Summer: Try not to overwater in areas where Daffodils are planted. Allow foliage to cure naturally without intervention.
Fall: Use a granular slow-release fertilize to feed Daffodil bulbs now. Gently lift and divide clumps of bulbs now. Plant new bulbs and include a few Grape Hyacinths to mark the planting spot. Remove dead foliage, and mulch with evergreen boughs after the ground has frozen. Water bulb plantings thoroughly through the fall if rain is scarce.