Cheery, undemanding daffodils may very well be the most vigorous and adaptable spring bulbs for naturalizing landscape areas. These plants are perfect for populating perennial beds and hillsides, and they create striking contrast in shrub borders or ground cover. Naturalization of daffodils is nothing more than planting the bulbs in locations where they don't already normally occur. All you need to do is choose a spot that can readily supply the plant's basic growing requirements. It's important to carefully choose daffodil bulb varieties with native growing conditions comparable to those existing in the proposed naturalization area.
Choose daffodil varieties that will thrive well in your location. Inspect the bulbs carefully. They should be large and firm, with no signs of rot or disease.
Select your planting site in the fall before mid-October to give daffodils plenty of time to develop strong, healthy root systems before winter sets in. It's important to choose a well-draining spot in full sun. For best performance, daffodils need at least six hours of sun each day while they're in leaf. A spot with southern exposure will provide earliest blooming.
Prepare the naturalizing area. Cultivate the soil well to a depth of at least 10 to 12 inches. Incorporate 2 to 3 lbs. of a complete 6-24-24 garden fertilizer. If your soil is light, you won't need further amendments. For heavy soils, combine equal parts coarse sand with leaf mold or peat moss. Add 5 or 6 bushels of the mixture to every 100 square feet of planting area. Work it into the top 6 to 8 inches of garden soil. Avoid animal manures, which tend to promote bulb rot.
Plant the daffodil bulbs so their bases are 6 to 8 inches below the surface of the soil. Space them about 6 inches apart if you won't mind digging up and dividing clumps every 3 to 5 years. Plant them 12 inches apart if you'd rather have 5 to 10 years before digging. Groupings of three to 12 bulbs deliver particularly impressive blooming results.
Mulch with 2 or 3 inches of organic material to help retain moisture in the daffodil bed. This will also discourage weed growth. Use shredded bark, pine needles, aged sawdust or wood chips. Avoid mulching with peat moss, which is lightweight and splashes the blooms during heavy rainfall.
Water the daffodil bed thoroughly so that it's evenly moist but not soggy or wet. Keep the bulbs uniformly moist throughout the fall to encourage good root development.
Feed your established naturalized daffodils lightly early each spring just as foliage begins to peek up through the soil. Spread an all-purpose bulb fertilizer over the surface of the bed uniformly and water it in well. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.