How Do I Grow Daffodil Bulbs?

T. Alaine

Growing daffodil bulbs is relatively simple because the plants are fairly low maintenance. There are, however, a few simple rules to remember to ensure the bulbs grow properly. Daffodil bulbs must be carefully selected and stored, then properly planted at the correct time of year to ensure they develop and bloom as desired. The bulbs must be planted in locations that allow them access to water without being flooded, and they must have adequate available sunlight.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The first step in growing daffodils is to make sure the bulbs are in good shape before you begin. It is essential that daffodil bulbs be stored in mesh bags and kept away from excess moisture, which can cause them to rot before they even go in the ground. The bulbs should feel firm to the touch; overly soft or mushy bulbs might already have been exposed to too much moisture and may have started rotting.

Generally, bulbs need to be planted in the fall when the soil is approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5°C) or slightly below. In regions that experience a distinct change of season, this generally means right after the first frost, or when trees begin shedding their leaves. The bulbs will not bloom until the spring when temperatures rise, but they need to be planted well in advance. Bulbs should be planted 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) below the surface, in soil that is not too clay-like or heavily compacted.

Planting the bulbs is fairly simple, the biggest concern being logistics. It is essential that daffodil bulbs, like most other types of bulbs, be planted in an area with adequate drainage. If water is allowed to pool around the bulbs or the soil in which they are planted becomes flooded, the bulbs are likely to rot. Do not assume that you can control the amount of moisture simply by watering less, because rainfall can be unpredictable. Instead, play it safe and plant daffodil bulbs on a slight uphill slope to ensure rainwater runs off and does not rot the bulbs.

Another logistical matter to consider when planting daffodil bulbs is the amount of sunlight available. Daffodils need full sun, but this requirement is not as restrictive as it sounds. These flowers bloom in the springtime, usually before leaf-shedding trees begin to bud. Therefore, areas that will be fully shaded in the summer can still have daffodils underneath them in the spring before the trees fully develop their leaves.

If your daffodils bloom to your liking, there really is no need to fuss with them for the next season. Daffodil bulbs will continue to bloom, and it is not necessary to dig up the bulbs and plant new ones every season. To ensure the bulbs bloom beautifully and healthfully next season, however, be sure not to trim away leaves and stems until they have begun to turn yellow or wither. Live leaves help provide nutrients the bulb will need during the dormant, non-blooming months.

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Discussion Comments


One good tip for growing daffodils successfully is to get the bulbs in the summer and keep them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator until planting time. Yes, I said, refrigerator (not freezer!). Keeping the bulbs cold really helps them come up in the spring. I don't know exactly why this is, but it has always worked. Actually, any bulbs will keep for several months in the fridge until you're ready to plant them. It helps them get a good start, for some reason.

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