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Hi all, I'm new to Gardeners' World and this is my first question. 

 Can anyone recommend a daffodil bulb that is suitable for heavy clay soil?  I have been told that if I put one in that is most like a wild daffodil that I have the best chance.  Is this true?


Hello Sarah and welcome.

I garden on heavy clay and I have not really had a problem with daffodil bulbs, although most bulbs do not like it. Can I suggest that you buy a large bag of grit £2.50 and put some in the planting hole before you plant the daffs. That way you can pick any varieties that you would prefer.

I buy at least one bag of grit each year for my small garden and it is money well spent.

hollie hock

Hello Sarah , I have heavy soil, overall my spring bulbs do reasonably well.

A year ago I bought a lot of different daff bulbs- spent a little bit of  money on some of themThe ones that did the best for me this Spring  were the cheap ones bought from Wilkos etc. This may have been down to the weather both at the time and the year previous.  I had a lot that came up blind or too early so the flowers were damaged.

All the bulbs are still in the ground so I'm hopeful to have a better show for the Spring.

Interesting advice kate- I begrudge spending too much money on the garden but £2.50 sounds like my sort of price. Just out of interest how much grit do you put in to the planting hole- some bits of my garden could always do with some more drainage.

Just my experience.......  I'm going to take some care about where to plant any new daff bulbs ( and there will be some) as when the flowers are over, you have to leave the leaves on them til they die down to feed the bulbs for flowering next year.

I love daffs, one of my favourite- but they can take a while to die down after flowering and look messy & scraggly whilst they are doing so.


My garden was very heavy clay. I added a mixture of compost/farmyard manure and sharp sand to the beds and this helped tremendously with drainage. As long as water doesnt sit on the soil after its rained I wouldnt worry about rotting etc.

Narcissus are extremely reliable

Here in Wales the ones planted on the roundabouts and parks and at the side of roads come up every year without fail and most of this area is clay.



Hollie-Hock I put in just enough so that they are not sat on the soil, but obviously it is adding up over time, I add grit to lots of things and it is very useful for cuttings too.

hollie hock

I'm in a similiar  area Matt- and daffs are known here as tough ones that come up year after year, in fact all spring bulbs do! I do think the weather the year previous had a lot do with how daffs performed this year. I say this because an untended hedgerow close to me had about 50% less flowers this year  than they did the year before, a lot of them were blind.

Thanks kate, sounds like a small bag of grit will go a long way, especailly as you say it will add up over time. Where's the best place to get it from, at that price?


Ah you live just up the road from me then. I'm in Torfaen so I guess you have the same timings as me for flowering


Hollie-hock I use a trade landscape suppliers, you have to dodge the white vans and lorries, but they load it into the car for me. I go there to get good quality compost. They only take cash and the men smoke whilst they serve you. I have just looked at B&Q and choked at their prices.

Gary Hobson

I have a heavy clay soil and daffs do OK.

Planting into cultivated (dug) soil shouldn't be difficult. However, I prefer to have my daffs growing in grass. Boring a hole through grass into a heavy clay soil is very difficult. I've broken at least two steel daffs planters, trying to bore holes. I've broken both the small hand-held planers, and the more 'robust' ones which have a handle and a bar to stand on. Clay soil beneath grass can be like concrete.

So it can be a challenge to get a suitable depth. I like to put some compost beneath the bulb too.

Thanks for all the advice,  am delighted there is so much interest and advice out there.  I like the idea of sourcing the grit cheaply by using a trade supplier; garden centres do charge a fortune for a tiny bag.  Interesting also that people find the cheaper bulbs as reliable as the more expensive. Thanks for the link about wild daffodil bulbs Figrat, will definately have a look.  I've given up on daffodil planters by the way and I just use a shovel!

hollie hock

kate- sounds like my sort of place I'm not going to spend a fortune on grit that is just going into the ground no matter how much it's meant to do the garden good..

Yes Matt we are neighbours, at the moment my annuals are still doing very well, infact coming into their own. I'm hoping for another mild winter here, last year I had a couple of frosts (not hard) and that was it. Managed to grow lobelia from seed in Jan without a heated greenhouse, but you never know what will happen this year.

I love all spring bulbs Sarah, just want you need after the winter

Hi there, i have recently planted a large area of bulbs in quite a sodden/heavy soiled area of the garden I work in. I Cultivated the ground as best as possible then back filled with upside down turf and some good quality soil, as was previously a golf bunker that I emptied. Planted daffs, crocuses and tulips, and wish I had seen this forum before I did as am now a bit worried about how successful it is going to look next year. Have daffs growing in other sodden areas of the garden, is just the crocuses and tulips am a little unsure of? Am in a position where I could easily add more bulbs to the better soil above where I have planted the initial bulbs in the heavy soil. Is just I would not know what I was planting on top of, and if things were to be fine next year and the specimens grow that I have already planted, It could potentailly look a bit messy? The soil is quite wet where they are as peeled back the layers earlier today whilst working, hence the essay message.


any advice or guidance on this topic would be greatly appreciated, as am looking forward to hopefully seeing a colourful, natural looking area of bulbs next year, as are the clients am sure. Is a large area and have mass planted, so could it be potentially a case of some will survive and others may not ? If dont address this now if anybody potentially tells me it is necessary, i will be annoyed if it doesnt look as good as i have pictured in my mind as have spent alot of time on this task, and may have to look for a job elsewhere next year which would like to avoid.


Hi Lewis,  I garden on heavy clay and think the display will look fine next Spring.  The tulips probably won't come back very well the year after but the daffodils will probably love it.  Some of the crocus types will do well, others may flag in subsequent years.  Some large red or yellow tulips might repeat well depending on type, but I have to treat most of the fancy ones as annuals.  Species tulips are a lot more tolerant:



Thanks very much for that Bob, has reassured me to a comfortable level. Is just has taken a fair few shifts to complete and was kicking myself after reading this forum due to concern whilst planting. Will have a look at your link as more tulips will be needed I think to keep the mixture consistent. Fortunately the majority of bulbs planted within the area are daffs, so hopefully any gaps will be minimum and can replant in next year. 

Thanks again.

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