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Growing Daffodils

In mid-March when winter blues overtake you and it’s hard to find a clear patch in the grey overcast above, I look out my front door and find a spot of sunshine in my newly growing daffodils.

Growing daffodils is one way to get a good dose of sunshine before spring pulls back the blanket of winter. Daffodils are one of the easiest flowers to grow and a perfect choice for the beginning gardener. Famous for the bright yellows of cultivars like jonquils and the yellow trumpet, daffodils also come in thousands of colors that range from the demure whites of paper-whites to peach and on to bold orange.

Although narcissus is often mistakenly referenced as another type of flower, narcissus is the botanical name for the daffodil. The family is divided into 12 divisions of 25 species and over 13,000 hybrids. However, it isn’t only selection that makes growing daffodils an easy introduction to gardening. Daffodils are prolific in multiplication. While many other types of bulbs dwindle in a few short years, with minimal care, a planting of daffodil bulbs will last a lifetime!

Daffodils come in all sizes from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems. Along with the harbingers of spring, there are also daffodil cultivars in mid and late season varieties. Growing daffodils in an assortment of sizes, colors, and bloom-times gives you an irresistible display that carries through spring into summer.

Although daffodils can be grown from seed, it takes up to five years to achieve a blooming plant. If you want growing daffodils in the spring, bulbs need to be planted in the fall. If you didn’t know that, take note of it for next September. For success in growing daffodils, plant bulbs deep—six to eight inches down from the top (pointy end) of the bulb—where they will get plenty of sun. Remember, they’re going to make their appearance when sunshine is at a premium! Also important for growing daffodils is a location with good drainage. Daffodils like water, but they can’t swim!

Less is more when growing daffodils. Space your daffodil bulbs according to the package directions. Although you may be tempted to plant them close together for a great looking first-year group, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that they are prolific in bulb propagation. Planting daffodils too closely together results in a crowd of bulbs that fight each other for growing room!

One common mistake you can make when growing daffodils is to cut back the foliage after the flowers finish blooming. After your daffodils bloom, they’ll start rebuilding their bulbs in preparation for the next year. During this time, the plants use foliage to collect both sunlight and moisture, so keeping them watered during this period is also important. Your daffodils are planning ahead to create that spot of sunshine to melt away the winter blues!

by Hans Dekker

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