The bright yellow blossoms of daffodils are a harbinger of spring. Here are some tips on when to plant daffodil bulbs, how to care for them, and what to do after they bloom.

Plant spring flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, in the fall (October until late December). Select a site that provides 6 to 10 hours of sun with good drainage.

A pH of 6 to 6.8 is ideal.  Consider adding bone meal or 1 to 2 pounds of 5-10-10 or 8-8-8 per 100 sq feet of bed. 

Incorporate fertilizer and any soil amendments to a depth of 12 inches. Plant the bulb upright to a depth of 4 to 6 inches depending on the size of the bulb (larger bulbs should be planted deeper). Fertilize your bulbs again when the new foliage begins to emerge from the ground

Daffodil bulbs develop roots in the fall. Depending on where you live, cold hardy foliage emerges February to March. Fertilize your bulbs again when the new foliage emerges with an application of water soluble 5-10-10.

The first spring after planting, most bulbs produce one to three flowers. Once the flowers have wilted, snap them back. Allow the foliage to grow until it dies back naturally (about 6 weeks).

Poor blooms on daffodils (sometimes called blinds) occur for a variety of reasons:

-The bulbs were planted too late. If the bulbs are still healthy, they will continue to grow and flower in the next season.

-Too little sunlight. Daffodils need 6-8 hours of sunlight to bloom.

-Too much nitrogen in the fertilizer.  If over used, nitrogen fertilizer produces lush foliage but no flowers. Use a fertilizer with a higher middle number (phosphorus) such as 10/20/20 or 0/10/10  or 5/10/10 early spring. Consider a second application of fertilizer after blooming particularly if your bulbs are planted under trees that compete for nutrients.

-Crowded bulbs may need to be divided.

-Plants leaves were cut too soon or tied off the previous spring. Daffodils replenish their bulb during the six week period after blooming.

-Bulbs were planted too deep or too shallow.

 Daffodils are a favorite spring flower. They are easy to plant, require minimal maintenance, and multiply over time. Consider adding to your garden this year.

 Laura West, Master Gardener class of 2018