Brighten up your garden with daffodils.

How to Grow Daffodil NarcissusLight/watering: While daffodils prefer full sun, they usually tolerate part-day shade, especially Cyclamineus hybrids such as ‘Jack Snipe’ and the Poeticus variety ‘Actaea’. These varieties with orange, red or pink cups generally retain deeper color when planted in a location that receives protection from the hot afternoon sun. Watering in autumn is essential for good root growth before the ground freezes in cold areas. Try not to overwater during the summer months when bulbs are dormant.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Daffodils will not survive in soils that are wet, especially during the winter. Avoid low-lying areas where water collects or where the snow is slow to melt in the spring. Plant bulbs at a depth that is 3 times the height. Daffodil Narcissus bulbs appreciate deep planting in light soil. If your soil is heavy, try planting less deeply than we recommend, and make up the difference with a layer of compost on top. Plant larger bulbs or bed-sized bulbs 5-6 inches apart (4-5 bulbs per square foot), smaller bulbs or landscape-sized bulbs 3-4 inches apart (5 bulbs per square foot), and the miniatures 3-4 inches apart (5 bulbs per square foot). When planting, keep in mind that the flowers tend to face the prevailing direction of the sun; in a border seen from the north they will look away from you. Do not separate bulbs that are attached to the base; the smaller bulb (known as an offset or a “daughter” bulb) should not be detached from the parent bulb before planting. The best time to fertilize is in the fall, when the bulbs send out new roots. To make clumps of daffodils easy to find, plant some grape hyacinths (Muscari) among them; the grape hyacinths send up some leaf growth in the fall. The next best time to fertilize is early spring, just as the daffodils’ foliage begins to penetrate the soil. We recommend using a slow-release granular fertilizer specially formulated for bulbs.

Pests/diseases: Few if any pests bother daffodils. The bulbs and foliage are toxic 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 because it may be infected with a virus. Watch surrounding daffodils for symptoms because the virus is spread by contact.

Companionship: Daffodils 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 decisive for the future vigor of the plant. If you cut, fold or braid the leaves before they have yellowed and collapsed, you can prevent the bulb from storing the energy needed to flower the following year. You can hide healing leaves by planting bulbs with leafy perennials like browning, hostas, daylilies and ferns or by adding annuals including Vinca (Madagascar Periwinkle), Impatiens and Begonia after the daffodils have bloomed. If you are planting the bulbs in a lawn, do not mow the grass until the bulb leaves begin to turn 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 wilted, signaling the end of active growth. Lift them with a digging fork or spade, being careful to avoid damaging the bulbs, and replant them immediately at the same depth and about three times their diameter apart. Water well.

Calendar for the care of daffodilsEarly spring: Fertilize now if you missed the autumn 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 that show signs of virus infection.

Summer: Try not to overwater in areas where daffodils are planted. Let the foliage harden naturally without intervention.

Fall: Use a slow-release granular fertilizer to feed daffodils now. Carefully lift and divide clumps of onions now. Plant new bulbs and include some grape hyacinths to mark the planting spot. Remove dead foliage, and cover with evergreen branches after the ground freezes. Water onion plantings properly in autumn if it does not rain.

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