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How to Plant Daffodil Bulbs in the Spring

By Martha White
Daffodils, paperwhites, jonquils... they are narcissus.
daffodils image by david hughes from Fotolia.com

Spring or summer plantings of daffodils run the risk of rot, rodents and other ills, but with good drainage and careful attention, it can be done. Planting spring bulbs, such as daffodils, is best done in the fall, before the first frosts hit and while the ground is still easy to till. If you plant in the spring, fertilize well--and expect to wait a year or more, before they will next flower for you.

daffodil image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com

Choose a sunny location and, ideally, one where you will enjoy these harbingers of spring from your kitchen window. Daffodils, jonquils and paperwhites are early-spring bloomers, known by the botanical name "Narcissus." These bulbs require good drainage and periodic feedings of a general fertilizer. Some gardeners add bone meal, as well. It is best to plant bulbs that are not already in bloom.

Roots down!
daffodil bulbs image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com

Plant the bulbs with the dried roots at the bottom (flatter side down) and the more pointed side up. Consider the landscaper's trick of planting in groupings of threes and fives, for a more professional appearance. Daffodils look great in clumps, and they will increase and divide, over the years.

Early spring growth will look like this.
narcissus image by Aleksandr Lobanov from Fotolia.com

Use a bulb planting tool (like a wide cylinder or tube of metal, with a handle) or use your hand-held garden spade to make holes of about four inches to six inches in depth. The bulb should be planted at least as deep as the bulb is high--so if you have a two-inch bulb, plant it at least four inches deep. Shallower plantings will increase (and need to be divided) sooner.

Bark mulch does not need to be removed.
Daffodils image by Lidka from Fotolia.com

Protect the bulbs before winter hits, by mulching well with dried leaves, a commercial mulch or pine needles. In the spring, after danger of frost is past, gently remove the mulch around the emerging plants.

Bountiful bulb blooms...
daffodil flowers image by Steve Lovegrove from Fotolia.com

Check the plants periodically, especially if you have planted in the springtime. Continue to fertilize and water, over the summer months.

Mulch well, before winter, and cross your fingers for next year. You may skip a summer, before the next blooms appear, but continue to water and fertilize, to help the bulbs store food for the next blooms.


Things You Will Need

  • Bulbs of your choice (daffodils are "Narcissus")
  • Bulb planter tool, or hand-held garden spade
  • Soil
  • Mulch, pine needles or leaves


  • Clump narcissus by variety--jonquils here, daffodils there, paperwhites somewhere else.
  • Spring bulbs can be brought inside and forced, for indoor blooms, by potting them up with soil and pebbles. Water well and place in a sunny window.


  • Bone meal additions to bulbs in the outdoor garden may attract rodents. Some gardeners dig it into the soil, then cover with chicken wire or other screening that the plants can grow through, to discourage squirrels.

About the Author


Martha White has been a freelance writer and editor since 1987. Her articles have appeared in "The New York Times," "Boston Globe," "Christian Science Monitor," "Country Journal," "Early American Life," "Family Circle," "Garden Design," "Maine Homes Boats & Harbors," "New Woman," and "Yankee Publishing," among others.