How to Care for Narcissus Plants

Overview

Narcissus is the Latin or botanical name for daffodils, while daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus Narcissus. Whichever name you choose to use, these spring-flowering bulbs are a good plant for the novice gardener since they require so little care and are reliable year after year. Narcissus bloom from late March through May with trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in a wide assortment of colors and they often look best in informal gardens. When planting, the bulbs can be tossed over the garden soil and planted where they fall creating a naturalized look.

Step 1

Water your narcissus plants consistently to make sure the soil does not dry out. Keep the soil moist, but do not let it become soggy. Using a soaker hose or garden hose with the water turned on to a trickle works best and allows deep watering. One inch of water weekly is usually sufficient, but check the soil and if it is dry about 2-inches deep, it is time for a watering. Water throughout the growing season and then for about three weeks after flowering, then stop watering until the following spring.

Step 2

Feed your plants in the spring right after planting and once more after flowering to help with new growth development. Use a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous and potassium, with a lower nitrogen ratio (e.g. 5-10-10). Do not fertilize in the fall or winter.

Step 3

Mulch around your plants with a 2-inch layer of straw, peat moss or leaves to control weeds, preserve moisture in the soil and promote aeration. Mulch also provides insulation during the winter months protecting the bulbs from the extreme cold.

Step 4

Deadhead the flowers during the growing season as soon as they fade or are spent. Leave the green foliage on even after the flowering is done, allowing the leaves to manufacture nutrients from the sun and soil so the plant can grow healthy flowers the following season. When the foliage turns yellow, cut it down to the ground. A good rule to follow is to leave the foliage on for at least one month after the flowers die before cutting it off.

Step 5

Divide and replant your bulbs after about the fourth year or when the flowers begin to get smaller and are more crowded. Narcissus flowers flourish in the second, third and fourth year after planting. To divide the bulbs, dig up the bulbs when the tops begin to die back and either replant immediately or store for a later time.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not plant narcissus too close to foundations or under eaves where they can dry out too quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch

References

  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service; The Narcissus
  • American Daffodil Society; Daffodil Growing Tips
Keywords: narcissus plants, caring for narcissus, daffodils

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.