Daffodil Society of Minnesota

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Caring for Daffodils


Purchase your bulbs from local garden centers, if you haven't placed earlier mail orders. Plant only firm healthy bulbs. See list of Minnesota recommended varieties. Keep a list of your varieties and where you purchased them.
Prepare beds for new plantings.
Begin planting, but wait for cooler soil temperatures before watering bulbs. Bulbs should be planted 6" deep, a hands-breath apart in circular clumps for best garden effect. Miniature bulbs can be planted in plastic berry baskets 4" deep. They can be planted between hostas or daylilies and under deciduous trees because in early spring they will get the full sun they need to thrive.
If you are planting a mass of bulbs for a naturalized look, single varieties in separate waves look best.

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Continue planting, watering as you go.
Water 1/2" to 1" per week, if no rains.
Side dress existing bulb beds with high potash fertilizer, if desired, sold as muriate of potash.

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Complete planting by October 15th, watering as you go.
Continue your watering schedule throughout the month; roots have to grow for six weeks to allow the bulb to “harden off” for winter.

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Continue your watering schedule until the ground freezes
Leftover bulbs make great indoor pots during the winter; if you plant late, you have a very high risk of losing your bulbs to freezing. See: The Science of Winter Hardiness and Indoor Pots.

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Water if ground has not frozen.
If ground has frozen, mulch all bulb beds with pine needles (best), chopped oak leaves (next best). Unchopped leaves can mat and prevent daffodil leaves from getting through next spring.

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Stay warm inside.
Check your indoor pots for dryness. Most varieties require 12 weeks of cold—not freezing—for flowers to mature. Tazettas (“paperwhites,” Division 8) do not require cold-put them into pots, water and enjoy bloom in 3-6 weeks.

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Stay warm inside. Make sure mulch is still on outdoor beds. If snow cover is sparse, winter winds can remove your mulch. Christmas tree branches can help keep mulch in place.

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As weather starts to warm, carefully remove mulch from beds. If temperatures dip to single digits, replace mulch. You should see leaves emerging throughout your beds.

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Continue to remove mulch.
Water if Spring is dry or snow cover was skimpy.
Fertilize with Muriate of Potash fertilizer, if desired.
First blooms usually appear in early April, but weather can be very variable.

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Peak bloom season is usually around Mother's Day. Cut some of your flowers and bring them to our annual Daffodil Show. See Calendar of Events for date and location.
Sanitize cutting tools with bleach between cuts.
Continue watering, if spring rains are sparse.
Flower heads can be removed (“dead-heading”), if desired, but leave flower stems intact to photosynthesize food for the bulb.
Cutting off the faded flower heads is not necessary and risks transmitting viruses without sanitation.
Look for disfigured leaves with yellow streaking the full vertical length of the leaf. These bulbs may be infected with virus and should be destroyed immediately—they will gradually infect the rest of your bulbs. This is different from extreme cold weather which can cause leaf tips to brown horizontally and may cause greening on petals of certain varieties.

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Late blooming varieties usually carry into June unless temperatures soar.
Do not remove, tie up or braid leaves or stems until they turn brown on the tips. The earliest you can remove leaves or mow a naturalized area is six weeks after bloom.
Mark clumps you intend to dig up this season with plastic spoons or golf tees. Leaves disappear quickly and it’s easy to slice through bulbs with your shovel.
Place your mail orders for new bulbs early. Many suppliers offer early order discounts. See Sources.

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Dig bulb clumps you need to move to another location or divide. A clump does not need to be divided unless the number of flowers has decreased and you have only a crowded bunch of leaves each spring. For most varieties, this is 5-7 years. Your golf tees or spoons will guide you to avoid cutting through bulbs. Dig deeply with a straight-edged spade. Lift the entire clump out and carefully separate the bulbs. Do not pull bulbs apart with any force! Cut off leaves. Either replant immediately (see August, above) or store bulbs until September in a cool, well-ventilated dark area. Bulbs must dry before you can rub off roots and dead outer layers, approximately six weeks. Check bulbs for softness or rot during drying. Keep variety labels with bulbs; they all look alike as bulbs!
Share extra bulbs with friends and family.

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©2005 Daffodil Society of Minnesota | Last Updated January 11, 2019 3:07 PM
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