No-one would argue that the humble daffodil inspired one of the greatest - and certainly best known - poems about flowers. William Wordsworth Poem about Daffodils says everything there is to say about this flower - except how to grow it. So, we fill in the gaps!
Daffodils can be planted in tubs, containers of almost any type, in the garden, under lawns or naturalised in woodlands.
One thing is certain about Daffodils - whatever the weather, they are the true sign that Spring is at last pushing away the dull, grey days of winter.
Seemingly unperturbed by their long sleep beneath freezing soil, they burst forth to cheer us up with a magnificent splash of colour. Yellow, has long been recognised as a cheerful colour. I wonder if the daffodil had anything to do with that.
Nowadays Daffodils are available in an increasing rage of colours - and shapes!
White through to deepest orange. Single blooms or 'scrambled eggs' nodding away in the spring breezes - gales. All this, and so easy to attain!
Narcissus (Daffodils) are normally available in UK from mid August onward, and are best planted at that time, but planting can be extended right through to end of October. Even if planted in November, they will not disappoint in the following spring, but may well not be as good for the following year. Information that actually answers the question - what is a Daffodil?
Good healthy firm bulbs are to be found almost any garden centre these days. Much care is taken by UK and Dutch growers to ensure that you get good healthy daffodil bulbs. Recent 'experiments' have been carried out to see if there are mote flower stems from 'double-nosed' bulbs. There aren't, but the larger the bulb generally, the more flower stems. Double bulbs usually have a large bulb and small bulb attached, and it seems that the smaller 'twin' usually sprouts just leaves!
So, good firm bulbs - either from open bins or pre-packs if you want something a little bit more special.
Whatever the size of bulb, it should be planted at 3 times its depth, so for the normal daffodils, this will be around 5-6in deep, and the rockery bulbs will be planted maybe 4in deep.
These planting depths are the same whether in open garden, woodland, or naturalised under the lawn. If the soil is damp, then have a little bit of sandy compost ready to ensure that the planted bulb has a soil 'jacket' with no gaps as with lumpy clay soils.
For a good show in the spring, plant the normal daffodils at 8- 10in spacing, with the miniature daffodils closer - at 4-6in apart.
At planting time, a good dressing of slow acting bonemeal fertilizer, will help the bulbs get established, and also ensure good blooms the following spring.
Ideally, Daffodils should be planted quite early in the Autumn - or even late summer. August is not too early, but September through to October will also be ok. You can even plant them after Christmas, but the flowers will not be so good, they will be late, and the plants will generally be poor quality. But, leave then in the ground, and they will be ok for the following year.
The roots of the bulbs will start to grow almost as soon as you plant them, and it is not unusual to see the first shoots coming up through the ground as early as December with some varieties. Certainly by January February most Daffodils will be showing through the ground or grass. The earlier they are planted, the stronger the plant and flowers will be.
Planting your bulbs as above, but it might be easier to strip and roll back the turf in order to plant the daffodil bulbs. A point to remember when naturalising in the lawn, is that daffodils are best left to die down naturally after flowering so, this will mean uncut lawn areas in the spring - for about 6 weeks after the flower shave died off. Plan the areas of your lawn that you are prepared to see uncut - maybe 6-8 tall grass - in the spring months. If you have trees in the lawn, or perhaps specimen shrubs, then daffodils naturalised under these will always look good. Dwarf Daffodil Bulbs are particularly good for naturalising in your lawn
When using daffodils under lawns, look out for instructions on the pack which denote that they are suitable for naturalising. One of my favourites for this, is the dwarf Tete a Tete. never fails, is early and dwarf enough not to be bothered by any strong winds.
Look after your Daffodils after they have finished flowering if you want a good show the following year as well. This advice is for daffodils planted anywhere!
Never cut the foliage off - let it die down naturally, for during this time, the foliage is necessary for supplying the underground bulb with the food it needs in order to start preparing its flower buds inside, ready for next spring. Daffodil bulbs are quite busy little things. You may only see the results in the spring, but much is going on inside of the bulb for most of the year!
Right after flowering, feed the area with a good liquid feed - tomato feed is suitable - over the foliage and into the ground. this helps the bulb to build up the reserves it need to produce flower buds throughout the early summer - but still unseen - inside the bulb!
Remove all of the faded flowers as soon as possible - including the little bulbous seed head that soon forms behind the fading flowers.
In the spring, you will see daffodils for sale at your local garden centres in shallow pots, with the 'noses' of the bulbs poking out of what little soil has been used. This is NOT the way for you to go if you want a good display of Daffodils in containers on the patio. (The garden centres shallow potted ones have been grown in in a special way in order to get them to you as cheap as possible!)
Any planting container is suitable for daffodils - as long as it is free draining. Multi-purpose compost can be used - or garden soil if suitable. With container planting, the bulbs can be planted a bit closer together, as they are normally removed after flowering, and can then be planted in the garden - whilst still in leaf - to allow them to die down naturally. Try planting daffodils in containers in a couple of layers. A layer of daffodil bulbs at around 8-10 deep, cover with a little soil, then another layer of bulbs on top of that. They will all flower at the same time, but will be at different heights -quite attractive.