Tag: daffodils

Start your Potted Daffodil Garden

It’s hard to believe when summer comes to an end that it’s already time to start planting bulbs for spring bloom. All of our favorite bulbs – such as hyacinths, tulips, and of course, that symbol of spring itself, the daffodil – are now available in garden centers and nurseries.

I suppose the daffodil would have to be my favorite because of its simple beauty and reliable nature. You can just about always depend on it to return each spring. And while I can’t imaging my garden without those bright blooms, I know that once the flowers fade I need to leave the remaining foliage in place for almost six weeks so the bulb can be recharged to bloom again next year.

Pot of Daffodils
Though it’s not hard to disguise their long green leaves with other emerging plants, there is a way to enjoy the flowers without the problem of the remaining foliage. All you have to do is plant the bulbs in nursery pots and then bury them in the garden. Once the blooms fade, just lift the pots and set them aside.

This project is easy to do in a weekend. Start by finding an area where you’d like to enjoy a spring bulb garden. I’m always hungry for some early color in my vegetable garden, so my raised beds were ideal, but you may have an area near your front door or in an established flower bed. The best locations are well-drained soil with full sun, but even partial shade will do. Avoid wet, marshy spots.

Next, collect several plastic nursery pots. They don’t have to be the same size. I use containers that range from 6 to 8 inches in diameter and from 5 to 8 inches deep. Then pick out the daffodils you want to use. This may be the hardest part because there are so many choices.

While daffodils will grow in most areas of the country, some varieties perform better than others depending on the climate. With more than 13,000 hybrids to choose from, you’ll want to check with your local garden center or other gardeners to find the bulbs best suited for your area. You’ll find that daffodils have been developed to bloom in early, mid or late season, so you can extend the length of the display by choosing from each category.

Prepare the area by loosening the soil with a shovel. Then put about an inch of loose garden soil in the bottom of the containers, and place the bulbs shoulder to shoulder, pointed tip up. Add another inch of soil, and slip in a few more bulbs. Layering bulbs in each container gives you a bouquet. Fill the containers to the top with more soil. If you like, add a tag identifying the varieties. Next spring, you can note which ones performed the best.

Buried BulbsOnce all the pots are filled, water well. Then dig a hole in the bed, deep enough so the pot’s lip sits about an inch below the surface of the soil. Place the containers in the ground and fill in more soil around them. Lightly tamp down the area.

In my mid-South garden, winters are relatively mild, so I like to over-plant my bulb beds with violas and pansies. These plants thrive in low light and cool temperatures and provide a spot of color through the cold months. Or, you can add these plants after the daffodils begin to emerge in spring. Both violas and pansies can survive a frost and rebound in bright color.

Now sit back and dream of the beautiful display you’ll enjoy next spring. An added bonus of this potted-bulb method is that once the flowers are up, you can lift a container from the bed and bring it inside to enjoy. Simply slip the plastic container into a more decorative pot, add a few more pansies, and cover the top in sheet moss. It’s a quick and easy way to enjoy your flowers a second time as a spring centerpiece.

My Daffodil Picks:
For potting success, try these varied cultivars. Just make sure that you plant your bulbs before the ground freezes in the North, and after it cools down from summer in the South. Check a zone map to see which of these daffodils is best suited for your garden.

‘Topolino’ – white petals with a creamy yellow trumpet; it is dwarf in size and resembles the little trumpet naturalized throughout the Southeast; great for rock gardens, forced in pots, and in patio containers; 8 to 10 inches tall; early to midseason; zones 4 – 8.

‘Jenny’ – a small charmer that opens white and yellow but matures to a clear white; 10 to 12 inches tall; midseason; zones 3 – 8

‘Pipit’ – two to three luminous yellow flowers per stem, but the cup quickly turns white; superb garden perennial and show winner; American bred; 14 to 16 inches tall; midseason; zones 4 – 9.

‘Lemon Drop’ – two to three large, teardrop-shaped flowers per stem standing with reverence in the garden as it bows its two-toned head; American bred; 12 to 14 inches tall; midseason; zones 4 – 9.

‘Jack Snipe’ – cyclamineus miniature with a white perianth and yellow trumpet, great for rock gardens; 12 inches tall; early; zones 3 – 8.

‘Quail’ – long-lasting floriferous American-bred selection with deep bronze-yellow, multiple flowers; 12 to 13 inches tall; midseason; zones 5 – 9.

Early Flowering Daffodils

While visiting a friend’s farm this past weekend, I was walking around an area that was once an old home site when I saw my first daffodil bloom of the season. The bright yellow trumpet jumped out from the gray landscape and it was truly a sight for sore eyes.

I spotted the lone flower partially hidden behind an overgrown bramble. The house was long gone, but the daffodils planted by the former occupant still remained. These abandoned plots are one of the best places to spy early flowering bulbs and shrubs such as daffodils, forsythia and quince. In fact it was just such a place that first sparked my passion for gardening.

As a child I loved to wander through the woods near my house. One morning in late winter during one of my treks I noticed a bright golden drift of daffodils planted along a path leading to the remnants of an old farmhouse. Daffodil Rijnveld's Early SensationThere were more blooms lining a fencerow and as I looked around I uncovered the faint pattern of large rectangles and circles outlining the boundaries of long-forgotten beds. The mystery and magic of that spot planted the seeds that would later grow into my desire to design gardens that invite homeowners to spend time outdoors.

You don’t have to wander the countryside to enjoy early flowering daffodils. It is simply a matter of selecting the right varieties and planting them in your garden next fall. I recommend ‘Ice Follies’ for large, white blooms, ‘Tete-a-Tete’ for petite cups of gold and ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ for flowers that emerge as early as Christmas in some parts of the country.

Dividing and Transplanting Daffodils

Nothing says spring has arrived quite like daffodils. Even under the cover of a late snow, these cheery yellow blooms promise warm days, green gardens and blue skies.

One great thing about daffodils is that the bulbs will multiply so a single bulb will eventually turn into a big clump. Every five to 10 years the bulbs can get overcrowded, resulting in fewer and smaller blooms. The solution is to divide and transplant.

First, make sure that the daffodils are dormant before you move them. Wait until the foliage turns yellow. Dig the bulbs up and gently pull apart to separate them. Dig a hole that is three times as deep as the bulb is wide, add some compost and drop in the bulb with the foliage end pointing up. Back fill the hole with soil, water well and you’re done.

One last tip: make sure their new home has full to partial sun and very well-drained soil. Daffodils don’t like dense shade or wet feet.

Good to Know: Caring for Daffodils After Blooming

Daffodils are one of the most reliable spring bulbs. They’ll come back year after year with minimal care.

  • You can remove the flowers after they fade, but leave the foliage intact for at least eight weeks or until it turns yellow. It’s the leaves that produce energy for next year’s bloom.
  • In fall drench the soil where daffodils are planted with a liquid fertilizer. This is when root growth is most active. Follow the application recommendation on the fertilizer package.

Daffodils 101

Who doesn’t love daffodils? One of the most beloved harbingers of spring, daffodils are suitable for both in ground and container planting. They will naturalize freely in grassy meadows, woodland gardens, and lawns. The smallest of the species, hybrids and cultivars are good rock garden plants.

Daffodil Planting Tips

Daffodils bloom in late winter and spring except for three species that flower after autumn rains begin. For horticultural purposes, daffodils are split into 13 divisions based on their flower forms. While many, many cultivars have been developed, all are basically grown for their attractive flowers of mostly yellow or white, occasionally green with some cultivars having red, orange, or pink cups.

Most daffodils thrive in full sun or dappled part day shade. Those cultivars with red, orange or pink cups generally retain better color when planted in a little shade to protect them from the afternoon sun.

Plant daffodil bulbs about 3 times their own height in autumn after the ground cools a bit. In some areas this will be as early as September and in warmer climates as late as November. Most tolerate a range of soils but grow best in moderately fertile, well-drained soil that is moist during the growing season. Drainage is the key. Hillsides and raised beds are sometimes the best places. Improve clay with well-rotted compost or other natural soil amendment. I plant them a little deeper in sandy soil and shallower in clay to help keep the bulb healthy.

Few pests bother Daffodils. The bulbs are very unappetizing to most insects and animals, including deer and voles. If you see any leaves with vertical stripes in the leaves dig up the bulb and throw it away. It is probably infected with a virus. Watch surrounding daffodils for signs of the virus as it is spread by contact.

Daffodil Design Tips

Since their blossoms are spectacular but often fleeting, plant early, mid and late varieties to lengthen the season of bloom.

Plant daffodils with companions such as hostas, daylilies and ferns or an evergreen ground cover such as periwinkle or mondo grass. These bed fellows will help hide the foliage until it dies down.

Keep in mind when planting that the blooms tend to face the prevailing direction of the sun. In a border viewed from the north, they will look away from you. Where winters are severe make sure there is at least 3 inches of soil covering the bulb.

For big impact plant large drifts of bulbs rather than a sprinkling here and there.

Caring for Daffodils After They Bloom

It’s important to deadhead the plants as the flowers fade. Fortunately they make excellent cut flowers. Keep plenty of vases handy to make arrangements to use around your home.

Water late flowering varieties during dry spring weather as the flowers my drop off under dry conditions. Allow the leaves to remain until they yellow. Now is the time to apply low nitrogen, high potash fertilizer after flowering if bulbs are not performing well. Continue watering for 3 weeks or so after they bloom then stop as they enter their summer dormancy. Water only lightly if at all during the summer months.

Watering during the autumn is needed for good growth before freezing weather sets in. If the autumn rains are late, watering will help prepare the bulbs for winter and spring.

The great thing about daffodils is they will produce more bulbs over time. Lift and divide them when the clumps become large and the flowering grows sparse. The best time to move or divide bulbs is when their foliage has withered, signaling the end of active growth. Lift them with a digging fork or a spade, taking care to avoid injuring the bulbs and replant them immediately at the same depth and water well.

Good to Know

Contact with daffodil sap may irritate skin or aggravate skin allergies in some people. If you have sensitive skin wear gloves or be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after picking the blooms.

Daffodil Garden

Bulbs are “prepackaged flowers” that are easy to grow. As they develop and bloom, the plants delight children with their colors and beauty. With this activity kids plant a daffodil garden of their own design outdoors and then grow a paperwhite indoors so they can learn how their daffodil bulbs will develop into blooms.

Materials For Daffodil Garden:

  • Shovel(s)
  • 20 to 30 daffodil bulbs
  • Trowel(s)
  • Spoons
  • Synthetic bulb fertilizer
  • Water and mulch


Materials For Paperwhites:

  • large, clear plastic cups
  • pea sized gravel
  • tape
  • marking pens
  • paperwhite narcissus bulbs
  • water


Creating a BedFirst prepare a planting bed for the daffodil bulbs. Now you can tackle this task on your own before your children get involved, but I find that most kids enjoy this part of the project. Site the bed in an area that has good drainage and receives full sun. Daffodils need 4 to 6 hours of sunlight in the spring and the bulbs should be planted about 6 inches apart, so select an area and measure out the bed size accordingly. Loosen the soil 8 to 10 inches deep. If your soil is heavy with clay, improve drainage by mixing in some compost or humus.

Placing the BulbsThere are several ways to design the daffodil garden. For a natural drift have your children toss the bulbs on the ground and start planting them wherever they land keeping 6 inches of space between the bulbs . They can also arrange the bulbs to form their initials or a simple shape.

With the bulbs arranged, you are ready to plant. Instruct the children to dig a hole for each bulb. The rule of thumb is to dig a hole 3 times as deep as the bulb is wide. For daffodils this usually works out to be about 6 inches. Place a spoonful of synthetic bulb food in each hole, add the bulb and backfill with soil. Water and mulch the bed and you are ready to move indoors to plant the paperwhites.

DaffodilWrite each child’s name on a large, clear plastic cup.

Fill the cup 1/2 full with pea gravel.

Place 1 paperwhite bulb in each cup on top of the rocks with the tapered end pointing up. Add more gravel until the lower half of the bulb is covered.

Pour just enough water into the cup so that it just touches the bottom of the bulb.

Place the cups in a cool spot with indirect light.

The bulbs will quickly develop roots. Have the children check the water level to make sure the gravel does not dry out.

When the green foliage appears move the cups to an area that receives more light.

After about 3 to 4 weeks the bulbs will put forth fragrant white blooms for the whole family to enjoy and the children will be able to see in rapid motion how their daffodil garden will develop over the course of winter and early spring.

Buckets of Daffodils

With over 175,000 planted at the Garden Home Retreat, it’s hard to hide the fact
that I love daffodils. My affection is especially apparent in early March when
the first waves of blooms appear.

This project allows you to enjoy a full season of daffodils on a smaller scale.
Plus they are portable so you can bring spring with you wherever you go.

Materials for Planting Buckets of Daffodils

  • 12 to 15 bulbs of different daffodil varieties (I used ‘Sun Disc’. ‘Pippit’, ‘Thalia’ and ‘Mount Hood’)
  • 4 galvanized buckets
  • potting soil
  • hammer and large nail

How to Plant Buckets of Daffodils

Punching holes in the bottom of the buckets
Planting the bulbs
Grouping of daffodil buckets
  1. Start by adding drainage to the buckets. Using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the bottom
    of the bucket.
  2. Fill the buckets with soil, about three-quarters full.
  3. Place the bulbs, pointed end up, in the bucket and cover with soil.
  4. Daffodils need a period of chilling before they will bloom. Keep the buckets outdoors for
    approximately 15 weeks. If it gets seriously cold in your area they will benefit from some
    protection. Cover with leaves or mulch or place in an unheated storage area.
  5. Check the soil periodically and water if dry.
  6. When shoots begin to emerge move the buckets to a bright, cool location.

12 Daffodils to Plant this Fall

If you are looking for the ideal garden flower, you can’t go wrong with daffodils. Once the bulbs are planted in the fall, they emerge and flower reliably each spring for many years with little care. Their cheery, bright blooms illuminate the landscape and announce that winter is over and warmer days are ahead. The deer don’t bother the plants and over time the bulbs multiply so you can transplant them around your garden or share them with friends and family. How’s that for ideal?

The proper or botanical name for the plant is Narcissus. But you may know them by one of their many their common names such as buttercup, jonquil and Lent lily. Most people recognize them by their familiar yellow and white trumpet shaped blooms, but they also come in a beautiful range of other colors, shapes and sizes. And by planting varieties that bloom at different times in the spring, (early, mid and late season), you can enjoy several weeks of continuous flowers.

Here is a list of daffodil’s I grow in my garden and you should too.

‘Winston Churchill’
Double flowering
Very fragrant

Small cup

‘Barrett Browning’
Small cup
Early to midseason
Good naturalizer

‘Ice Follies’
Large cup
Early to midseason
One of my all-time favorites.


‘Perfect Lady’
Early to midseason
Small cup

‘Pheasant Eye’
Narcissus poeticus recurves
Late season

Early season

Double flowering
Early to midseason

‘Rhijveld’s Early Sensation’

‘Yellow Cheerfulness’
Double flowering

Mid to late season