Narcissus plants, better known as daffodils and sometimes jonquils, are bulbous flowers typically grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. They are one of the first faithful flowers that bloom early in the spring just as the weather begins to warm. Narcissus plants grow and bloom with little to no extra care; however, with a little bit attention, your narcissi will thrive and, in no time, you’ll have so many you can give some away or plant them in other areas of your landscape. While there are many varieties of narcissus, most can be cared for in a similar manner.
Control weeds and grass in the narcissus planting bed. The best way to control weeds is by manual pulling them and putting down 1 inch of mulch in the early spring before the weeds and grass begin to grow. You can also use a pre-emergent herbicide in the early spring, but always read the label carefully to make sure it is safe for your garden and that you apply it according to manufacturer directions.
Supplement rainfall with waterings so narcissus plants receive at least 1 inch of water during their active growing stage, which is from spring until fall.
Deadhead flowers by snipping off the flowers at the bottom of the stems with a pair of hand clippers. Do this once the flowers begin to fade to help prevent seeding, which uses up energy that could be used to grow more blooms leaves for next year.
Fertilize narcissus after they have finished blooming for the season, usually in mid to late spring. Use 2 to 4 lbs. of fertilizer labeled for bulbs or as a “bulb booster.” Water the garden well after watering and wash off any fertilizer that touches the foliage.
Cut off the foliage after it yellows in the fall with a pair of hand clippers or pruning shears. Leave the green foliage intact to absorb sunlight for energy, which narcissus will use to grow next year’s flowers. If you don't want to see the green foliage in your garden, at a minimum, do not cut it back for a month until after blooming is finished. If you plan to fold over and tie the foliage together, as some gardeners do for a tidier garden appearance, wait a month after blooming to do this, recommends Purdue University.
Apply an extra 2 to 3 inches of mulch in the fall the first year after planting, and then continue to add mulch every fall thereafter in warmer USDA zones 7 and 8. In warmer zones, the ground is more likely to freeze and thaw repeatedly during the winter. The ground is also more likely to warm up too early and the narcissus may grow too soon in the spring and become damaged by a later freeze. Once there is no danger of frost, remove all but 1 inch of mulch.
Divide narcissus bulbs every three to four years when the flowers don’t bloom as big or as much as they did in previous years. In the fall, cut off the foliage to within 2 to 3 inches of the ground and dig up the clumps of bulbs, which are typically planted about 6 inches deep. You’ll notice lots of bulbs stuck together. Pull them apart with your hands. Discard the old, rotten and shriveled ones and replant the healthy bulbs. You can also store the bulbs in a container to replant later. Just place them in a cool, airy and dark location, such as your garage, and replant them as soon as you can, preferably before the ground freezes. If not, replant in the spring as soon as the ground is workable again.