Planting Daffodils

(ARA) - The dog days of summer will soon ebb and a morning chill will be in the air -- a sure sign that fall planting time is upon us. If you are planning ahead for early spring color in your garden, -- now’s the time to think daffodils.

Daffodils offer a range and beauty well beyond the traditional yellow trumpets you so often see along the roadways. They are great naturalizers that will flourish for many years with little care when planted in sunny, well drained flower beds, and they are pretty much deer and rodent resistant -- a major benefit for those of you struggling to garden in the presence of our tetrapoded friends. Simply put, daffodils are a good landscape investment providing many years of beautiful returns.


Nearly 135 million Dutch daffodil bulbs are sold in the United States each year, and that amount has been growing 6 percent a year. Chris Schipper, a third generation Dutch flower bulb merchant explains “the range of color, size and bloom times of daffodils is far greater than most gardeners know.”

According to The International Daffodil Register and Classified List published by the Royal Horticultural Society there are nearly 25,000 known varieties of daffodils. The good news is that about 200 varieties are grown commercially and are generally affordable to residential and professional gardeners. Schipper’s family company, -- Colorblends, -- offers 50 of the best available daffodils at wholesale prices via the Internet and by mail order.

What to Plant

If you are finding it hard to decide on a specific Narcissus variety, Colorblends is offering a special wide-ranging collection called the Daffodil 100. This unique assembly is a virtual encyclopedia of daffodils, and the collection runs the gamut of colors (from yellow to orange to pink to white), flower types and blooming times. According to Schipper, “The Daffodil 100 offers gardeners the chance to experience 100 different varieties of daffodils during an eight week garden fireworks show running from late winter through late spring.”

For those of you seeking a more traditional yellow trumpet daffodil, Schipper recommends a relatively new variety called Marieke (pronounced MAREEKA). “Marieke is the successor to the throne of the King Alfred daffodil, a variety that has dwindled over the years.” Marieke has several characteristics that make it a favorite: it is a strong perennializer; each bulb produces two to three flower stems; the flowers bloom with an upward facing aspect reflecting more sunlight. And finally, Marieke is the longest blooming yellow trumpet daffodil -- as much as four weeks under good spring conditions.

If your are seeking other specific daffodil varieties, here’s a quick rundown of some top recommendations. Among the cupped-division both Pimpernel (yellow with a tangerine nose) and Accent (an American bred pink cup) are among Schipper’s favorites. More exotic is Delnashaugh (double flowering fluffy peach and cream) from the double-division, and there’s Thalia (a floriferous, orchid-like white) from the triandrus group. From the cyclamineous-narcissus category he selects Jetfire (jaunty little reflexed petals with a long orange cup) and is a big supporter of the multi-flowered Pipit (faint lemon yellow flowers with tiny white cups) from the jonquil group. And finally there is Old Pheasant’s Eye of the poet’s division (flat, pure white flower with a minute yellow red-rimmed cup) as a big favorite because “it has an incredible sweet fragrance, tolerates shade fairly well and is the last daffodil to flower in the garden.”


To bloom well daffodils require about half a day of sun in well drained soil. A basic working guideline is four bulbs per square foot, planted 7 inches deep in the garden. If you are naturalizing daffodils, plant bulbs farther apart than you would do for garden plantings. This spacing gives room for increase. And be sure to plant them in drifts or shoals for a naturalistic effect.

Weak or limited daffodil flowers after a few years are in most cases due to one of four variables:

1 - inadequate sunlight -- don’t plant in full shade and allow the foliage to die back naturally.
2 - poor soil drainage -- bulbs hate wet feet.
3 - shallow planting -- depriving the roots of the necessary moisture during the growing season.
4 - impoverished soil -- it pays to give them a sprinkling of bulb food in early spring during the growing cycle. Under good circumstances, most daffodils will bloom and increase for many, many years.

How Many?

If you are thinking of planting flowerbulbs this year, here is a simple rule of thumb from Schipper. “For every $100,000 of real estate value, consider planting 100 bulbs.” If your home is worth $300,000, you should consider planting 300 bulbs to add landscape value to your property and the neighborhood. Given the delightful variety, natural durability and deer-resistance of daffodils, you’re looking at many happy years of blooming returns.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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