Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Optimum Daffodil Blooms

Daffodils at my place bloom beginning in mid-February. The earliest are tazettas of the 'paperwhite narcissus' type and trumpets. Trumpets above were planted some 40 years ago when true King Alfreds were still readily available.

These are paperwhites forced two years ago,
spent bulbs planted out to recover and bloom again.

Some reasons for failure of daffodils to bloom or return include disease and fungus.
Buying from a reputable source increases the chance for good bulbs.
Daffodils need a certain amount of chill to bloom well. We had an exceptionally cold January. I believe this is why daffodils here bloomed so well this year. We are at the southern limits for good bloom.

Ice Follies

More Ice Follies.
Location, drainage and nutrition will affect bloom.
Too much nitrogen leads to lush foliage with few blossoms.

Tete a Tete
Tete a Tete and Jet Fire

At the end of these were tiny clumps of Rip Van Winkle.
I dug all of them last week and moved to a new location,
planted more shallowly in an attempt to force bloom next year.

In an ideal garden, bulbs will be underplanted with groundcovers.
Yellow cordyalis seen here is a native wildflower, self-planted.

I don't remember the name of this daffodil. It might be a
Fortune hybrid. Close up is young foliage of California poppies.
Pretend you don't see chickweed. Hot sun will kill it soon.

  Overcrowding leads to poor bloom as does stress from transplanting.
On the other hand, poor bloomers may need to be moved to a
location with better drainage, richer soil, more sunshine.
I moved several dozen daffodils last week that refused to bloom.
I wondered if they were planted too deep, so I set them shallow.

The foliage of these will ripen as the lantana around them returns for
summer bloom. Dead lantana plants make a great mulch.
There are annuals coming up and perennials in the 
ground behind. Succession of bloom takes planning. 
Even with planning I get surprises -- and some failures.

Mixed daffodils make the best show if the various cultivars
bloom pretty much together. Deadheading the early bloomers
will let the later blossoms shine.

 Pink Charm, Ice Wings and Sailboat bloom at the same time.
Yellow Sweetness in the background tends to
have secondary blooms where it is happy
(I have some in shade that are shy to bloom at all.
Some of them were transplanted, too.)

Sometimes bulbs disappear from one year to the next.
Among the culprits may be drought, squirrels digging, fungus rot,
poor soil or poor drainage.

Pink Charm, my fav.

I've planted Pink Charm bulbs from the dollar store.
They usually grew and bloomed about as well as
the ones from more traditional sources.

'Daffodil' calls to mind yellow trumpets. I look forward to white cultivars
as well. These are Ice Wings and Sailboat. I'm never sure which is which.

Erlicheer's heavy heads flopped all over but it smells so good.
I almost forgot to mention how fragrant some daffodils are.
Sweetness lives up to its name.

The heirloom triandrus Hawera is very dependable. I divided older clumps to start these.

More Hawera, this week. These bloom a little later because they
are under a little dogwood under a live oak tree.
Not the most hospitable site but they don't seem to mind.

This is a very old heirloom double that has been here
for decades. It illustrates how tough a daffodil is.

I think this is Carlton. It was open for
Bloom Day in February.

Most daffodils here bloomed early this year. I think the prolonged cold in January was sufficient that when the weather warmed in February they were ready to come out.
Next year may be entirely different. Some may even sulk for a season and not bloom at all.
I'll be expecting them the next year and I hope to have some new cultivars.

There are still buds emerging. I'm hoping to see Misty Glen, always late, and Baby Moon soon.
If you haven't daffodils I hope you will buy some this fall.
If you have daffodils I hope you will buy more. And some hyacinths.

For all the scoop on properly growing daffodils check the American Daffodil Society web site


  1. My Daffs had an amazing bloom period this season too. Still have some opening. I also read that cutting off the seed heads will encourage more nutrients into the bulb along with leaving the foliage for at least six weeks for blooms the next year.

  2. I knew I would see a lot of pretty daffodils on your blog! You have such a variety of pretty ones.

  3. I love your daffodil posts. You have so many! I don't have daffodils in my garden, but every time I come here for your daffs, I make a promise to myself to buy some this Fall!

  4. You inspired me last spring to plant a wider array of daffodils this last fall. I planted over 600 bulbs over fall and winter. We now have some Tete a Tetes blooming along with our Dutch Masters, and Unsurpassable and Standard Value look like they're about to open (I got them in the ground a little late). None of them particularly special varieties, but we had a lot of ground to cover. Next year I'd like to add some of the more unique types, but in the meantime I love dropping by to see all the daffs you have in bloom. Your heirloom double toward the end of the post is enchanting.

  5. Your daffodils are so pretty! I was just preparing my post on daffodils and see we think alike. I love these flowers since they are almost bullet proof. I don't blame you for planting them shallow there since it probably doesn't get that cold? Here I plant mine deep and they do ok. I adore that corydalis under the daffodils! Looks so good! Now I'm glad I did not throw away my paperwhites. They are going in the garden. I had saved the bulbs from last year and while they didn't bloom they grew leaves in the pot. I think the garden would be better though like you said. I bet they smell nice. Long winded as always but I so enjoy it when gardeners share their knowledge like you did about one of my favorite bulbs.

  6. P.S. My faves are Tete a tete and Ice follies.

    Got a great laugh out of fried spam!

  7. Neil Jean,

    Good info on daffodils. We have a lot that are not doing much, February Gold and Jetfire each had 2 blooms, I'm sure there are at least 10 bulbs of each, foliage looks good. Our Baby Moons did great and Tete a tete. Our first Pink Charms will be opening by the weekend!

  8. Such an interesting post. I've never planted bulbs before. I've mostly been interested in vegetable gardening, but your post inspired me. I'm going to check out the dollar store for bulbs, too. Great idea.

  9. You have a great variety of Daffodils! So nice to see yours in bloom - ours are on the way here in won't be long until we're enjoying those cheerful harbingers of spring!

  10. Thanks for visiting the Garden Spot. You Daffodils are awesome. You are well ahead of us. Can't wait for mine to bloom in may. cheers. ann

  11. 1st time I saw daffodils popping up on road sides and everywhere was as a student in England I was so in love with them it was like a magician pulling out a rabbit from nowhere. You are so lucky to witness this every spring.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

Google+ Followers