When to plant daffodil bulbs

Spring wouldn’t be spring without a blaze of chirpy daffodils. Here’s the lowdown on planting daffodil bulbs to liven up your garden each year.

Why should you plant daffodil bulbs?

Bright and bubbly daffodils are a welcome sight every spring. As well as adding a cheery burst of colour when little else is blooming brightly, these dainty trumpets are cheap, reliable, easy to care for and fabulously low maintenance.

Also known as narcissus, there are thousands of varieties of daffodils to choose from, with different shapes, sizes and colour combos. Fancy yellow, orange or white flowers with single or double ruffles? Or miniature daffodils (which look adorable in pots)?

When to plant daffodils

Wondering when to plant daffodil bulbs in pots or in the ground? If they’re in containers or borders during August or September, your daffodils will be out between February and May, depending on the variety.

Once established, they’ll bloom year after year with next to no input. If they’re really happy, they’ll even start to naturalise and spread themselves around your garden.

How to plant daffodil bulbs

Daffs love nothing more than fertile, well-drained soil and a spot of sun or light shade.

Whether you plant your daffodils in pots, through beds or under trees, before you get started, grab a pair of gloves as the bulbs can irritate your skin.

How to plant daffodils in the ground

Daffodils are best done to the max. Plant them through the lawn in drifts or use them to line the edges of beds and borders. 20-30 bulbs should do the trick, but an extra packet never goes amiss.

1. If you’re going for a naturalistic look, scatter the bulbs in front of you and use a bulb planter to make a hole where each one falls. Alternatively, employ a trowel or spade and dig holes where you want them to sprout.

2. How deep to plant daffodil bulbs? A good rule of thumb is to go at least three times the depth of the bulb - and a little deeper in lawns - with the pointy end up. Try to keep them a couple of bulb widths apart.

3. Cover the bulbs with soil and gently firm them in before sloshing some water on top.

How to plant daffodils in a container

No spring container display is complete without a few daffodils. And they can easily be layered up with other bulbs like muscari and hyacinths for a succession of spring blooms.

1. Pick a planter that’s deep enough for the bulbs. If you’re planting a layered bulb lasagne, you’ll need a deeper container. Make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom and raise it on pot feet or bricks if you can, so water can easily soak away.

2. Half fill the pot with a mixture of peat-free compost and grit and place your bulbs evenly over the top, pointy end up. Aim to keep them around 5cm apart.

3. Top up the pot with compost and water them in well.

Daffodil bulbs will thrive in pots for 2-3 years. Check on them each autumn and remove any that are rotting. If you want to freshen up your spring container display, plant the old bulbs in the ground before repotting your tubs with fancy new varieties

Caring for daffodils

While daffs like lots to drink, they hate wet feet. Keep them well hydrated but make sure they’re not sitting in water.

When your flowers have gone over, snip off the seedpods and let the foliage die down. This will focus the plant’s energy on the bulb and lead to beauteous blooms the following spring. A low nitrogen feed will also help them put on a top-notch show in years to come.

Once the foliage is completely brown, cut it back to the ground. If you’re lifting your bulbs to store them before creating a new display in the autumn, let them dry out and store them in a paper bag in a cool, dry place, like the shed or a garage.

What to plant with daffodils

Daffs are stunners by themselves and glorious as part of a spring planting scheme. Combine them with early tulips in a contrasting colour, or layer them up in a pot with blue muscari, purple crocuses and white hyacinths.

Dot them among spring borders where they’ll spring up alongside hellebores, or plant them under trees or hedges with romantic swathes of snowdrops or bluebells for a springtime extravaganza.

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