Daffodil Flowers: How To Plant, Grow, and Care For Narcissus Bulbs

Daffodils are known as the bringers of spring because when they start to bloom, it means that spring has come. It is a cheery flower that will work best as border and accent flowers in the garden.

It is also a beautiful flower cut and an easy to grow container plant. But like other flower bulbs like tulips, the real work will come after every blooming time.

To know more about how to grow and care for daffodils, here’s everything you should consider. 

Daffodils facts

The striking profile of daffodils does not stop at its attractiveness and seeming hardiness. To know more about the plant, here are some facts about daffodils. 

  • It is the official birth month flower of March. 
  • Although it is a perennial, an annual version of the daffodils exists. Annual daffodil bulbs are pre-chilled before planting. This is a popular planting method in hotter, more humid regions. 
  • Botanically, daffodil is the designated common name for all flowers under the Narcissus family. This includes paperwhites and jonquils, among others.
  • In England, daffodils are called lent lilies. 
  • It is the national flower of Wales. In their lore, spotting the first daffodil bloom will bring you wealth and prosperity. 
  • There are at least 13,000 hybrids of daffodils crossed from more than 25 known species. 

Daffodils meaning & symbolism

Daffodils stand for deep regard, new beginnings and rebirth because they are believed to be the signals of spring.

Its botanical name is Narcissus taken from the Greek lore that the water nymphs turned the vain boy of the same name when he drowned admiring his own reflection.

In Europe, especially in England, the daffodil is one of the most referenced flowers in poems. It is seen in Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night painting and is mentioned in literary works such that of A.E. Housman, Longfellow, Shakespeare and Robert Frost. 

In China, daffodils are popular new year flowers and symbols of fortune and prosperity. It is also associated with St. David’s Day in Wales because it blooms in time for the celebration believed to be the symbol of David’s faithfulness. It is also the official flower emblem of the American Cancer Society.  

Types of daffodils flowers

1. Split Corona Daffodils

Split Corona Daffodils

It has one of the showiest flowers during spring and one of the tallest daffodils. It has large blooms and an open face instead of the usual trumpet-shaped flowers. It comes in an old rose color and white flower base. 

2. Poeticus Daffodils (Narcissus poeticus)

Poeticus Daffodils (Narcissus poeticus)

This one is also called as the Pheasant’s eye and is an award-winning daffodil. It is notable for its strong scent with red-rimmed, yellow cups and pure white flowers. It blooms solitary cups per stem in late spring. 

3. Triandrus Daffodils (Narcissus ‘Thalia’)

Triandrus Daffodils (Narcissus 'Thalia')

Also called the orchid narcissus, this is also one of most heavily scented daffodils with large, nodding, white flowers in mid-spring. Each stem produces 3-4 flowers. This daffodil is known for its longevity. 

4. Large-Cupped Daffodils (Narcissus ‘Carlton’)

Large-Cupped Daffodils (Narcissus 'Carlton')

It produces large, trumpet-shaped, overlapping, golden yellow flowers in early spring. It is also an award-winning variety because of its rich vanilla scent. It is very hardy and naturalizes well in a wide range of growing conditions. 

5. Trumpet Daffodils (Trumpet Narcissus)

Trumpet Daffodils (Trumpet Narcissus)

This one grows as a mid-sized daffodil produces trumpet-shaped flowers with lemon-yellow base, golden yellow petals and ruffled edges. Each stem blooms a solitary flower the entire spring. 

6. Small-Cupped Daffodils (Narcissus ‘Barrett Browning’)

Small-Cupped Daffodils (Narcissus 'Barrett Browning')

This cultivar is notable for its large (4inches across) petals with red-colored cups and white overlapping petals that are slightly frilled at the rim. It is good as border flowers and astonishing as stem cuts. 

7. Petticoat daffodil or hoop-petticoat daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium)

Petticoat daffodil or hoop-petticoat daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium)

It is the most popular hoop petticoat daffodil notable for its short yet narrow petals and funnel-shaped cups. Although low-growing, it is a prolific bloomer all through spring. It loves acidic soils and self-seeds. 

8. Tazetta Daffodils (Narcissus tazetta)

Tazetta Daffodils (Narcissus tazetta)

It is one of the most famous stem-cut daffodils because of its known sturdy stem and strong, sweet scent. Each stem produces 4-6 showy flowers with yellow/white petals and orange cups blooming through spring. 

9. Jonquilla Daffodils/rush daffodil (Narcissus jonquilla)

Jonquilla Daffodils/rush daffodil (Narcissus jonquilla)

This one is unique for being an all-around daffodil and known for having a long bloom time (five weeks and more). Each bulb grows multiple stems and each stem is clustered with 2-3 flowers. It produces medium-sized open flowers with yellow-lemon color fading to creamy white at the cups. 

10. Cyclamineus Daffodils (Narcissus cyclamineus)

Cyclamineus Daffodils (Narcissus cyclamineus)

It is also known as the Jetfire and is one of the most popular dwarf narcissus available. Albeit its small size, it produces large flowers with yellow petals and red-orange trumpets. It makes a sturdy border flower throughout spring.  

11. Double Daffodils (Double Narcissus)

Double Daffodils (Double Narcissus)

This one is also an astonishing flower cut blooming from early to mid-spring. Its sturdy stems produce solitary or multiple full double-flowers. Its flowers are creamy white up to the center, ruffled edges and apricot-pink tinges. 

Planting daffodils flowers

Planting daffodils flowers

1. When to plant

The best time to plant daffodil bulbs is during fall (specifically in September) when hot summer soils are gone and cooler in-grounds are around.

In warmer climates, daffodils can still be planted in December as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen.

If you cannot plant daffodils from the bulb during fall, there are pre-potted bulbs that are available for planting starting from late winter to spring. 

2. Where to plant

Daffodils are essentially sun-loving, hence, your planting site must be somewhere where the bulbs could receive full sun to partial shade and dappled sunlight especially during the growing season or right after planting the bulb.

If insufficient light is unavailable indoors, you have to place it in a room where the temperature does not fall below 45degrees Fahrenheit

3. How to plant

For planting, you have to choose bulbs that are not too dry. Remember that the larger the daffodil bulb, the better.

Choose a site where it will get partial to full sun. Be it in-ground or planted in containers, you have to choose well-draining and fertile soil.

Plant the bulbs at 1-3inches depth. In areas where winter is harsher, it should be planted at 3-5inches depth. In garden beds, they have to be planted at 3-6inches apart.

Apply bulb fertilizer upon planting and add rodent deterrent in each planting hole. 

Daffodils care

Daffodils care

Soil

Daffodils love fertile and well-draining soil. Soggy soils or heavy clay are prone to waterlogging. Just a fun tip, daffodils love soils with ground coffee as it helps in good drainage, ample water retention and soil aeration. 

Fertilizer

Aside from applying bulb fertilizer after it is planted, you won’t need much. Regular fertilizing during spring is recommended though.

Assess the flowering rate during spring and if the plant didn’t produce much of what is expected, you have to apply high potassium and low nitrogen fertilizer and re-assess the plant during the next bloom time. 

Sun & Light

Daffodils love sunny locations to produce enough seeds for annual blooming. Having enough sun around allows continuous photosynthesis which will keep the flowers blooming annually. Dappled light or partial shade will also be good for them during the growing season. 

Water requirements

Because daffodils are sun-loving, they have to be watered regularly and thoroughly. Specifically, regular watering (twice a week) is needed during spring and fall.

It will produce corms before early winter and if there is snow cover outside or if you decide to have it indoors, you will need to water the plant every day. Watering should stop 3weeks after the last bloom fades as they grow dormant in the summer. 

Humidity and temperature

The ideal temperature for daffodils would be a range from 29 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While it could tolerate below 29 degrees, extended exposure to winter frost will damage the plant especially bulb production.

A low-humidity location indoors (a consistent 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit) is recommended. 

Repotting

Dividing daffodils once in every three years is essential in the growth and longevity of daffodils. When the flowers start getting small in each bloom time, it is enough indication that it needs dividing as the root stocks have become congested deep down.

Locate the point where the leaves are dying and take it from there. You can repot healthy bulbs anytime and place it where it could get enough sun. 

Pruning

After the blooming time, do not cut the dead flowers immediately (only prune the dead flowers and stems, never the leaves).

The bulbs need to restock energy to produce seeds for the next bloom time. If it is time to remove the dead flowers or if you have to kill the plant, you will have to snip them by the base or twist the leaves while pulling.

After pruning/deadheading, you have to add organic compost in the soil to maintain/improve bloom rate for next year. 

Propagation

The only trick to propagation is to secure healthy bulbs. This could be done during division but as have been mentioned, this process is only done after three to five years of continuous blooming. 

Transplant daffodils

As have been previously mentioned, digging for transplant should be done after the blooms have died or after the foliage has turned yellow. This usually happens during late spring and mid-summer. Dig up the saved bulbs and follow the planting process. Transplanting usually happens during fall.

How to care for daffodils in winter

Don’t worry about overwintered daffodils because they are essentially cold hardy. Just look out for possible waterlogging in the soil especially when grown in containers. Waterlogging will produce root rots and fungi infestation. 

How to care for daffodils indoors

Daffodils are also good container plants as long as the pot is deep enough for their roots to spread and stock. If it is your first time to plant one indoors, you have to choose a pot at 8-12inches in diameter and an 8-inch depth.

Fill the pot with the right potting mix and then cover the bulb with soil and enough water. For the next four months, you have to put the pot in a dark, cool place where the temperature remains at 45degrees Fahrenheit.

Water if the soil appears dry. After flowering, the pot must be transferred in a shadier spot and water it once a week. Adding bone meal to the soil will ensure its health. Indoor or potted daffodils could last for up to three years. 

Daffodils diseases & pests

Although hardy in many respects, it is still prone to some pests and diseases. As for pests, daffodils are commonly attacked by narcissus flies during very hot, humid and windless days.

They lay eggs in the plant base, hatch after seven days and start chewing on the bulbs. Bulb scale mites is another pest to look out for in terms of pests. Again, it is a hot-climate disease usually indicated by black spots in the foliage.

Slugs, snails and swift moths may also become problems if regular weeding and inspection are not done. They target the leaves and chew on the plant’s stem. 

Another result of hot summers would be basalt rots, considered as the most serious daffodil disease. Its symptoms include too early foliage dying and watery bulbs with rot stains.

When gray spores appear, you should prepare for another disease called smoulder. While not that fatal, it affects bulb yield and flower volume next year. Leaf scorching can also happen when it is too hot. 

For all of these, the common intervention is weeding, the use of insecticide or fungicide. Ensuring that correct care requirements are followed would spare you these problems too. 

Toxicity of daffodils

A lot of bulbs are considered toxic and daffodils are not exempted in this. They are specifically toxic to animals when ingested in large amounts. The whole plant has lycorine, a substance with emetic properties, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are daffodils poisonous to cats?

Yes. The plant is notoriously fatal for cats. When the pods are ingested, it will mean death for them. 

Are daffodils perennials?

Yes. Daffodils are perennials known for more prolific flowering after each blooming time. Pre-chilled daffodil bulbs are cultivated as annuals in warmer regions. 

Do daffodils grow back every year?

Daffodils come back yearly with more blooms than the previous year. They grow dormant in the summer and extended frost but will grow back as soon as better temperatures are here.  

What to do with daffodils after they die?

After daffodil flowers die, they must not be cut immediately to ensure bulb production for the next bloom time. If we mean the entire plant dying, it must be uprooted by twisting the leaves and carefully pulling the plant up. 

Should I deadhead daffodils?

Yes. You have to start deadheading as soon as the blooms start fading. In doing this, you will preserve the green foliage for at least 5-6 weeks.  

Why are my daffodils not blooming?

There are two reasons as to why this happens. First, you planted them shallowly. They should be at a depth 3times deeper than their size. Second, planting the bulbs too late will cause non-blooming. 

Why are my daffodils blind?

There is only one reason for this. Blind daffodils are caused by cutting off the dead flowers and stems too soon. Without enough energy, they cannot produce enough bulbs for the next blooming time. 

Conclusion

Considering what we have covered for the daffodils, we have proven why it gets so much popularity for homeowners. It is easy to care for, essentially hardy and is a survivor, to say the very least. It is also very symbolic in many cultures and is fondly considered as the bringer of spring. Be as it may, daffodils truly spruce up the garden in a very unique way.

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