Narcissus 'Jack Snipe'

Daffodils - Grow Guide

Find out everything you need to know about growing daffodils - guaranteed to brighten your garden in spring.

The golden trumpets of hardy narcissus, large and small, brighten our gardens in spring. They are often referred to by their common name – daffodil. Bulbs are planted in autumn and from each bulb, you can enjoy years of reliable colour. There are many different varieties, some flowering in February and others as late as early May.

Narcissus range in height from about 5cm up to 45cm and although most commonly bright yellow, white and pink varieties are available.  

Here are our tips for growing daffodils successfully.

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Planting position

Narcissus are happy to grow in sun or light shade. They prefer a moist but free-draining soil. Narcissus can be grown in containers, in borders or in lawns. Wherever you plant them they look far more at home when planted in generous drifts. 

Planting techniques

When buying bulbs choose those that are large and firm. Narcissus bulbs need to be planted in autumn. If planting narcissus in a compacted soil improve the soil by digging in organic matter. A very compacted soil will not encourage generous flowers.
Most narcissus need to be planted about 10cm deep (follow instructions given for individual varieties).

If growing in a container use a John Innes no 2 or 3 and position the container in a sunny spot. Also plant spring bedding plants in the container to create a colourful display. Water containers so that the soil remains moist but not wet. It is possible to leave bulbs in a pot for many years, but replace the compost above them each year.

When growing in grass throw a handful of bulbs onto the grassy area. Where they land is where you plant them if you’re trying to create a natural look. Using a bulb planter pull out plugs of soil and put the bulbs in the holes, pointy end up. Place the core of soil and turf removed back into the hole.

 Bulbs can be planted into open soil using a hand trowel or bulb planter. Space bulbs two bulb widths apart

Propagation

Established plantings of narcissus can be divided in autumn. Lift clumps carefully with a garden fork and peel the bulbs apart. Replant straight away.

Troubleshooting

On occasion daffodils will produce a healthy crop of foliage but fail to flower. This is known as daffodil blindness and it can be the result of many things.

There is a possibility that bulbs have not flowered as they were poor bulbs when planted. Other reasons include soil that is too dry or the foliage being cut back too quickly after flowering the previous year. Daffodils will not flower if they receive less than three hours of good sunlight a day. Overcrowding is the most likely cause. To resolve lift and divide bulbs in autumn. 

Care

In poor soils a slow-release bulb fertilizer can be applied in spring. Once flowers have faded deadhead plants. Don’t cut the foliage back until it has gone brown. If growing narcissus in a grassy area then you might not be able to cut the grass until June. 

Secateurs

Leave foliage to die back naturally after flowering

Never tie up the foliage of narcissus once flowering is complete. Leave foliage messy in order to allow a much energy to go back into the bulbs for the following year. Only cut back the foliage once it has turned yellow. 

Narcissus 'Tete a Tete'
Narcissus 'Tete a Tete'

Daffodil varieties to grow

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