Garden centres, nurseries and catalogues are full of daffodil bulbs now. I have to exercise supreme self-restraint every time I wander in!
I think I get asked more questions about daffodils than any other plant, apart from roses. I think it’s because they are ubiquitous in the spring and so we assume they are easy to grow. They are…and they aren’t, so I’ll answer the most common questions I get asked here.
I think the question I get most is ’How do I get my daffodils to flower more than one year?’
It’s a good question. It’s tempting to think that the only thing you have to remember about planting daffodil bulbs is to set them pointy side up, but it’s a bit more complicated than that if you want them to flower every year.
The trick is to set them deep enough. If you plant them just below the surface, as so many of people do, they dry out, which means they lack the food and moisture to get them through until the following year. The result is an uninteresting clump of leaves rather than a host of golden daffodils.
You can plant daffodils any time now, to the end of October. Sooner is better.
The next question I get asked a lot is, ‘What’s the difference between daffodils and narcissi?’
This is also a good question. All daffodils are narcissi, but not all narcissi are daffodils! ‘Daffodils’ is the name we give to narcissi with large trumpets.
The third question I’m often asked is, ‘How far apart should I plant the bubs?
They should be planted about 3 inches / 8cm apart in holes about 10 inches / 25cm deep. It looks deep when you are dropping them in but it’s worth the effort for the repeat flowering. Choose the biggest firmest bulbs you can find for each variety.
The final question I get asked is, ‘When can I cut down the foliage after flowering?’ I would suggest waiting for 6 weeks.
If you have a very small garden and can’t bear to have untidy foliage lying around you might be better treating the bulbs as annuals (daffodil bulbs aren’t generally expensive). Or you can plant them in an aquatic basket, and after flowering you can dig the basket up, water the bulbs regularly then replant in the autumn.
Alternatively, you can buy dwarf varieties of daffodil which have daintier flowers and foliage, so you can have pretty flowers without the resulting foliage posing a problem.
Whatever you decide, remember plant deeper than you think!
By Rachael Leverton