No garden is quite complete without the addition of daffodils, bright, sunny trumpet-shaped bloomers that will brighten up the landscape in early spring. When you see daffodil bulbs in the markets and garden centers in September and early October, grab a shovel and get busy, because it's prime planting time. Although daffodils require a bit of digging initially, once planted, daffodils will bloom for many years with virtually no attention.
Select a sunny spot in your garden. For daffodils, good drainage is key, so avoid places where water tends to puddle five to six hours after a rainstorm. Use a spade or tiller to cultivate the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches, and add 4 to 6 inches of well-rotted compost or manure.
Dig a hole for each daffodil bulb with a shovel or a trowel. Most bulbs are about 2 inches tall and should be planted approximately 6 inches deep. Plant the bulbs with the rounded end down and the pointed end facing up. For best effect, plant daffodil bulbs in groups of five to 12, with 3 to 6 inches between each bulb.
Cover the bulbs with soil and water the ground immediately, saturating the soil. Keep the soil moist until the autumn rains begin, or until the first freeze. Spread a layer of mulch such as straw, pine needles or dry leaves over the area to protect the bulbs during the winter months.
Fertilize the daffodils when the plants emerge from the ground in spring, using a low-nitrogen fertilizer formulated for bulbs. Feed the plants again when the daffodils begin to bloom.
Begin watering the daffodils again when the plants emerge from the ground in the spring. Stop watering about three weeks after the plants finish blooming.
Remove wilted blooms to keep the plants looking neat. Allow the foliage to remain on the daffodil plants for about six weeks after the plant is finished blooming, as the green foliage provides energy to the daffodil bulbs for next year's blooms. When the leaves turn yellow in early to midsummer, the foliage can safely be removed.