Daffodils 101: Spring is coming. Let the bells ring

How to take care of daffodils – All you need to know

I bought a bunch of daffodil (or narcissus) bulbs in bloom today. I saw them at a local flower shop in the neighborhood and I thought “why I have never had one of those? They are beautiful”. So yes, it was a rage buy.

I didn’t know almost anything about daffodils (in fact, not even their name in English, which is a weird one), so I started googlin’ how to take care of them. It took me a lot of time, since the information around seems part of some kind of botanical encyclopedia, much more information than someone willing to have them at home should REALLY know.

But anyway, daffodils are a great option for your garden or balcony since they are perennial plants that will remind you every year that spring is arriving with their colorful blooms, which is always a great and heartwarming sensation after a long, cold winter.

These yellow bells will ring yearly to announce that spring is near

So let me make a summary for you with the practical stuff only:

How to buy them?

You can buy daffodils in two stages of their development:

  • At bloom: sold this way at the end of winter/early spring in the northern hemisphere. They come potted and you may just wait for the flowers to fade (usually around 20 days) and keep the bulbs for next year.
  • As bulbs: daffodil bulbs are sold at fall, which is the right time to plant them and they will start blooming as spring comes.

Inside or outside?

Both. However, bulbs need to “feel the cold” in winter, so many people puts them outside before they bloom.

They ideally like being at a temperature around 15ºC, but they won’t complain if outdoor temperatures reach down to 1-3ºC.

Light?

Daffodils are very tolerant about having direct, indirect or poor light, but what they really hate is wind. Make sure they are somehow sheltered.

How do I plant them?

Plant the bulbs twice their own depth (this is crucial for success!). If winters are severe at your place, you can plant them deeper. Soil shouldn’t be very compact. Rich in organic matter and with decent drainage.

How much watering/fertilizing?

Moderate, about once a week. Whey they are in bloom, enrich them with liquid universal fertilizer every 7-10 days or so.

What to do with the bulbs?

After blooms have fade, leaves will keep growing in a messy way. If you don’t like them to be the center of attention, just plant the daffodils in pots and put them in a less visible corner. But do not cut the leaves! They keep photosynthesizing to feed the bulb for the next year. Keep watering until they die naturally.

Then there are two options: take the bulbs out to fill the gap with a summer plant and be able to control the growth of your daffodils for next year, or leave them in place. If you do so, you don’t need to water them after they have lost all foliage.

If you decide to remove them, dig the bulbs and rinse them gently to remove soil. Each year you will see they have had baby bulbs, having more and more daffodils. Leave them dry for a week and, optimally in early summer, you can divide the biggest bulbs (and maybe gift spare bulbs to your friends!)

Then, store them in a dry place wrapped in paper until fall.

Daffodils can make friends with…

Tulips, hyacinths, irises, crocuses… not only because you will obtain a stunningly colorful and bright result, but also because they are bulbs too, and they require really similar cares.

Sunrise in Barcelona 

I hope all this information serves you good. I’m no daffodil expert, so if any of these tips is wrong, just let me know. I will do my best taking care of them, and I hope next year I can post again about this issue, with even better tips!

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