How to Plant & Care for Daffodils


Daffodils bloom in early spring, often pushing up their first shoots before the snow has melted completely. These hardy bulbs survive harsh winters and return each year in larger clumps. Although gardeners or retailers often make a distinction between daffodils and narcissus (depending on the size and shape of the trumpet), according to the American Daffodil Society, daffodil is the common name while narcissus is the Latin name for the same plant. Care consists of providing adequate water and nutrients and proper pruning.

Step 1

Select a site for growing daffodils that receives full sun in the spring before the trees have their new leaves. Areas shaded by the canopy of trees in later months do not affect daffodils. Choose southern exposure for the earliest blooms in spring.

Step 2

Prepare the soil in the fall several week before the soil freezes. Till soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and amend with a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure.

Step 3

Dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep in the prepared soil for individual bulbs. Add bone meal or super phosphate following the application rate on the container and mix in well with the existing soil.

Step 4

Position bulbs to a depth of 4 to 8 inches, depending on the size of the bulb. As a rule, plant bulbs to a depth of two to three times the height of the bulb. Place the flat or blunt end downward into the soil with the pointed end facing upward. Cover with soil and tamp down with your hands.

Step 5

Water to saturate the soil to the depth of the bulbs. Keep soil moist until the ground freezes to assist in root development.

Step 6

Water deeply in spring when new growth appears. During active growth and hot weather, daffodils require weekly watering. Cease watering when foliage dies back in the fall.

Step 7

Remove faded blooms, but allow foliage to grow until it dies back naturally in late summer or fall, as the plant uses its energy to build large bulbs after blooming.

Step 8

Prune foliage back to the ground level in the fall once it yellows or dies. Sprinkle 2 cups of bone meal and 5 tbsp. of 10-10-10 fertilizer on the soil above daffodil bulbs in the fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller/spade
  • Soil amendments (compost/manure)
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Garden clippers
  • 10-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer
  • Bone meal or super phosphate


  • University of Illinois Extension: Plant Daffodils Now for a Burst of Spring Color
  • University of Illinois Extension: Bulbs and More

Who Can Help

  • The Universtiy of Tennessee Gardens: Plant of the Month: Daffodils
Keywords: plant daffodils, grow daffodils, daffodil care

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.