Planting Daffodils in Drifts

Some gardeners prefer Daffodils (Narcissus) scattered across the landscape as impressionistic points of color. Others prefer them organized by variety into drifts of solid color. Nature does it both ways, and so there is no right or wrong style for your bulbs. The choice is yours.

A planting plan should aim for irregular, long ovals, wide in the middle and tapering at the ends. Some drifts should be larger, some smaller. If you decide to create a planting plan on paper first, draw a line down the center of your paper, and arrange the drifts so that most will cross that center line at their tips, or occasionally, a third of their total length. You may prefer to create your plan directly outside on the ground where the bulbs are to be planted (keep in mind that Daffodil flowers usually face towards the direction of the sun, so drifts viewed primarily from the north will have their flowers looking away from you). Form the shapes of the drifts with sections of rope or garden hose and adjust them to suit your site in a natural-looking way. Remember, the point is to please your eye, not stick to a blueprint.

Once you are generally satisfied with the shapes, you are ready to fill them in with bulbs. Each drift should contain only one Daffodil variety. Check the plant labels for information on height, color, and bloom time—this will help you decide which variety to place in which drift. For example, you may wish to place the earliest-blooming variety in the drift that's farthest away and the latest blooming one in the closest drift, so that the sequence of bloom moves from back to front (early flowers that have gone by will thus recede from view). Or you may want to place a variety of a certain height or color in a particular drift.

Next, set or gently toss the bulbs of one variety into a drift. The bulbs should not be evenly spaced, nor too close or far apart. Once you are satisfied with the arrangement, start planting the bulbs at the depth indicated on the label. Repeat this process for each drift. More information on Narcissus.

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