Yellow daffodils in the sunshine.
image by John-Morgan/Flickr.com
Daffodils are a welcome sight after a long cold winter. One of the first signs of spring, they often remind us of Easter. Hundreds of varieties of daffodils come in wonderful colors and slightly different shapes. These flowers, a favorite of many flower gardeners, have a pleasing aroma and are easy to grow and care for.
Surely the most difficult part of growing daffodils is choosing the type that you want to plant. Daffodils are grown from bulbs and can be found at any garden nursery, home improvement store or can be ordered from catalogs.
Choose bulbs that feel full and heavy. Bulbs that have brown spots, feel empty or light for their size have usually had an insect problem. Choose colors that will complement your flower garden or other spring plants.
Choose an area to plant the bulbs that is mostly sunny and has good drainage. If you do not have an area with good drainage, build a raised bed for you bulbs. The bulbs will rot if they sit in wet soil for too long. Drainage is extremely important. Amend the soil with compost to help with drainage and nutrition.
Dig a hole at least two times as deep as the bulb is from tip to bottom. If the soil is sandy, it can be as deep as three times the bulb. Plant the bulb with the tip part facing up. Fill in with amended soil and press down firmly. Planting should be done in the fall, since the bulbs need the winter cold before they will bloom.
Water immediately after planting and keep the ground moist for a week or so to give the bulb time to start to root before the first freeze. Then begin watering again in the spring. Keep the soil moist from sprouting to three weeks after they bloom.
Fertilize with 5-10-10 fertilizer when you see the leaf tips coming out and then again with 0-10-10 as they begin to flower.
Remove dead flowers after blooming but do not prune off the foliage until it is yellow or dead. The bulb will get its next year's nutrients from the foliage on the plant. Once it is all yellow, cut it off at the ground.
Leave bulbs in the ground for up to three years or dig them up after the foliage dies. If you choose to dig them up, be careful not to damage the bulb with your spade. Clean them off and hang them in cheesecloth to dry. Keep them in a cool, dry place until fall and then replant them.