WHY GROW DAFFODILS? Daffodils are permanent, increase eagerly, and are wonderfully deer-and-rodent-proof.
HISTORY — Native mainly to the Mediterranean, narcissus were grown by the Egyptians and Greeks and brought into English gardens by the 1200s. While thousands of new tulips and hyacinths were being developed, the number of daffodils grew slowly. Maybe 50 date to before 1700, another 350 by 1860. But then a couple of British enthusiasts set to work and from 1860 to 1900 roughly 1000 new varieties were introduced. By 1930 there were another 6000, making the early 20th century a Golden Age. Only a fraction survive today.
HEAT-LOVING DAFFODILS — If you garden where winters are warm, see our “Daffodils for the South and Warm West” for expert guidance.
DAFFODILS AS CUT FLOWERS — Did you know daffodils will last much longer in bouquets if you cut them at the right stage and let their gooey sap drain out before adding them to the vase? To learn more, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.
DAFFODIL ARCHIVES — For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the bulbs, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Daffodil Newsletter Archives.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS — Though many sources say they’ll ALL thrive from zones 3 through 8, hardiness really varies depending on their ancestry. And many do well in zones 9 and 10 of the West Coast. Our zone recommendations will guide you. Daffodils like well-drained (but not bone-dry) soil and full sun, but they adapt to light shade pretty well. In the South they welcome afternoon shade and dry soil in summer. Bulb size varies widely, with and heirloom bulbs often being smaller. We always get the largest bulbs we can.
PLANTING & CARE — Plant in mid-fall when soil cools; earlier is better than later. If necessary, store till then in open bags in a cool, dry spot.
Choose a sunny to lightly shaded site. Full sun is best in the North, but the further South you garden, the more shade you can give them.
Plant in well-drained soil. Avoid or improve clay soil, or grow in raised beds. Dig down three times the height of the bulbs, about 6-8 inches for standard varieties, 4-6 for smaller varieties such as ‘W.P. Milner’, and plant with the narrow ends up, about 6 inches apart from center to center (or closer for a lush look). For each bulb scratch a tablespoon of bulb fertilizer into the surface (slow-release 10-10-10 is ideal). Water, and keep moist through the fall while the bulbs are growing new roots, through the winter if the soil doesn’t freeze, and through the spring at least till blooming is finished.
Re-fertilize lightly every spring and fall. After bloom, remove the spent blossoms but allow foliage to yellow completely (to feed the bulbs for next year’s bloom) before removing it. IN THE SOUTH, keep soil dry when soil warms up after blooming and through the summer to avoid disease problems.
Deer, rodents, and most other pests leave daffodils alone, but if some of yours mysteriously fail to appear in the spring, visit our Daffodil Bulb Fly page to learn about the likely culprit.
With good care daffodils will multiply, making an increasingly beautiful display every year. When decreased bloom indicates overcrowding, dig and divide after foliage yellows.