Daffodils provide so many good things in your yard. Rodent-resistant, they signal spring, make plantings near them less desirable to foragers, and regularly pay garden dividends. Healthy daffodil bulbs multiply naturally and, after two or more years in the same location, benefit greatly from being divided. New plantings of divided bulbs mean more cheery flowers with very little gardening effort. Learn to divide daffodil bulbs and reap the beautiful blooming dividends in your yard.
Wait until daffodils have bloomed and foliage has turned brown. Leaving the foliage on bulbs to strengthen them for next year's blooming season also gives you a handy marker for summer digging, dividing and replanting.
Signs That Bulbs Need Dividing
The first clue to when bulbs need to be divided is the time they have been in the ground. If you planted them more than two years ago, they will benefit from dividing. If clumps have been in the ground for many years, they signal their readiness by producing lots of foliage but few or small blooms. As crowded bulbs compete for soil nutrients, the first thing they sacrifice for survival is their flowers.
Removing Bulbs to Be Divided
Using a spade or trowel, dig a trench along or around your daffodils, 2 to 4 inches away from where foliage meets the ground. Dig straight down, to avoid nicking or cutting bulbs. (For large, crowded plantings you may wish to use a spading fork.) Loosen the soil gently around and all the way beneath the bulbs, being careful not to cut or pull off the roots.
Shake remaining dirt off bulbs gently and lay them on a newspaper or plastic bag. Each bulb is likely to show two or three branches, i.e., two or three bulbs clustered together, sharing a root system. Gently separate bulb clusters with your hands, making certain that each separated bulb has a few roots. In very warm climates, where daffodil bulbs are stored out of the ground during the summer, you are ready to put bulbs into storage and replant them in the fall. Where they remain in the ground all year, replant now.
Replanting Divided Bulbs
Dig additional holes for your larger number of bulbs. Bulbs should be be replanted 6 to 8 inches deep and 6 inches apart, just as you planted the originals. This is a good time to put a small handful of bone meal or bulb-toning fertilizer into each hole. Add a small amount of water to each hole only if the soil is powder dry; otherwise, do not water. Your bulbs have become dormant and will survive as they have before, with nature's watering only. Prepare to divide bulbs again in 2 to 3 years, using the same system.
Enjoy your daffodil dividends!