Generally speaking, when you plant daffodil bulbs, you should plant them two or three times as deep as the size of the bulb measured from base to pointy tip. This usually works to 3″ or 4″ inches for small bulbs and 6″ inches for larger bulbs.
However, there are some circumstances where you would plant daffodil bulbs deeper than usual. For example, if you have very light, airy soil, you could plant large bulbs about 8” inches deep.
In this article, we will discuss when, where, how, and how deep to plant daffodil bulbs. Read on to learn more.
How Do You Plant Daffodil Bulbs?
Here are the different ways to plant daffodil bulbs.
If you are naturalizing individual bulbs in a field, you can dig individual holes using a trowel, a bulb planter, or a post-hole digger.
When doing this, you’ll need to dig each hole several inches deeper than is necessary because you will want to put a handful of bulb food and 3” or 4” inches of loose, rich garden soil in the bottom of the hole.
Be sure to cover the bulb food with soil so it doesn’t burn. Break up the soil you have taken out of the hole and use it to cover the bulbs.
TIP: Press the soil down lightly with your hands to get good soil contact with the bulbs. You want to eliminate air pockets where moisture may collect and cause bulb rot.
If you are planting a small collection of bulbs, dig a single hole that is big enough and deep enough to allow space at the bottom for bulb food and soil amendments and plenty of room to space the bulbs 4” to 6” inches apart.
Break up the soil you have taken out of the hole and use it to cover the bulbs. If it is poor quality, add amendments as needed or simply use good quality commercial garden soil.
When planting daffodils in a dedicated bed, you can dig out the entire area to a depth that allows adding amended soil and bulb food as a base.
After laying down a base of good soil and amendments, put your bulbs in place (4″ to 6″ inches apart) and then cover them with the broken-up soil you have removed from the area.
If this soil is not of good quality, you may wish to amend it with good-quality garden soil or other amendments as needed.
If planting daffodils as a border, dig a continuous trench in the area where you wish to plant the bulbs. As always, include room for a nourishing base of good soil and bulb food.
How do you know what amendments to add to the soil when planting daffodil bulbs?
Generally speaking, daffodil bulbs are not especially picky about their soil, but they cannot tolerate sticky, heavy soil that blocks air circulation and keeps in too much moisture. If your local soil is like this, you should add amendments to loosen it.
Among these are:
On the other hand, your soil can be too light, airy, and insubstantial. If this is the case, humus can be helpful, as can peat mold.
TIP: If your soil is generally poor, and you are planting a large area in daffodils or other bulbs, you may wish to simply till the entire area to a depth of 12” to 18” inches, working in amendments and fertilizer as you go.
Once the entire area is tilled, loosened, and improved, you can plant your bulbs as individual bulbs in small groupings throughout the prepared garden area. You won’t need to add soil and bulb food to each hole.
13 Daffodil Bulb Planting Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does each daffodil bulb have to be planted at an exact depth?
When planting a group of daffodil bulbs of mixed sizes, you do not have to plant each one at exactly two or three times deeper than the bulb’s height.
Instead, try to group them so that bulbs of about the same size are planted together, and then dig a trench, hole, or bed that is the right depth for the largest ones in the group.
2. What will happen if you plant smaller bulbs deeper than necessary?
Small bulbs planted deeply will have to struggle a bit to break through the surface of the soil. It may take them a bit longer to make an appearance in the springtime. This can be advantageous if your area’s temperatures tend to be unpredictable in the early spring.
3. How many daffodils should you plant together?
The number of daffodils you plant in a group depends upon how you want to use them.
For example, if you want to naturalize them in a meadow, one way is to toss them about in a mowed area and then go around planting them where they land for an entirely natural appearance.
Many people like to tuck small groups of daffodils at the base of trees, around fence posts, and in other areas where they will add color and direct attention. For this sort of planting, groupings of three-to-five bulbs are nice.
If you want a flowerbed devoted to daffodils, you must determine how many bulbs you’ll need to plant them 4” to 6” inches apart to allow for growth. The same is true if you want a border of daffodils around a garden bed or a walkway.
4. What’s the best location for daffodil bulbs?
- Sun: Choose an area with a minimum of six hours of bright, direct sunlight daily. The more sun your daffodils get, the more they will bloom. If planted in partial shade, your daffodil bulbs may produce lots of pretty foliage, but flowers will be limited or nonexistent.
- Drainage: Choose an area with a little elevation to be sure your daffodil bulbs never stand in water. If your only choice is a low-lying area, build it up a bit by digging the initial excavation several inches deeper than necessary and adding a layer of broken stone or gravel to provide a well-draining base. You’ll put several inches of good soil and bulb food over this before putting your bulbs in place and covering them.
- Shelter: Daffodils grow and bloom best when they are protected against harsh winds and cold temperatures. For this reason, a location along a southern wall is ideal. A thick evergreen hedge is another possibility for providing shelter and protecting your plants against wind damage and chills.
5. How can I choose the right daffodils for my area?
There are hundreds of different kinds of daffodils, and most of them need winter cold to stimulate winter bloom. However, these varieties are typically winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 7 and below.
There are many choices among these, ranging from miniatures to giants in shades of white, pink, bicolor, orange, and classic yellow.
If you live in a warm area, a few varieties can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8 and above. Be sure to seek these out for the greatest chances of success in tropical and semi-tropical settings.
TIP: An affordable way to amass an eclectic collection of daffodils is to purchase pre-packaged mixes of bulbs suited to your climate. Doing this can extend your bloom season because different types of daffodils bloom at different times throughout the growing season.
No matter what varieties you choose, be sure to select large, plump, healthy-looking bulbs.
6. When is the best time to plant daffodil bulbs?
Generally speaking, it’s best to plant daffodil bulbs before the middle of October. In most settings, this gives the bulbs time to develop roots before the weather and the soil become too cold. The exact time may vary depending on your climate.
If your area has chilly autumn and early winter, you may wish to plant your daffodil bulbs in September. However, if your autumn months are warm and your winter comes late, you should hold off until the end of November.
Your bulb planting project should be successful as long as you can still work the soil, and the soil temperature is about 60° degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of about 6” inches.
7. Which end is up?
Always strive to plant daffodil bulbs (and most other flower bulbs) pointy end up. This is because the stems and leaves grow from the pointy end, and the roots grow from the rounded end.
If you accidentally plant your bulbs the other way around, don’t despair, and don’t go back and dig them all up and correct the problem.
They will still grow. It will just take a bit more time and effort for the stems and leaves to make their way to the surface of the soil and emerge.
8. Should you mulch over daffodil bulbs?
Adding a 1 or 2-inch layer of wood chips, chopped leaves, or unfinished compost is a good idea. It helps retain moisture in the soil, protects the bulbs against cold through the winter, and adds a bit of nourishment as the material decomposes into the soil.
9. Should you water daffodil bulbs?
After planting them, you should give your daffodils a deep watering.
If the weather is very dry, and you don’t have a freeze, you should water them every week for three weeks after that. This helps the bulbs set down roots before winter begins. Once winter has set in, cease watering.
If you have good spring rains in your area, you may not need to water your daffodil bulbs in the springtime. However, if you have a dry spring, provide a deep watering as soon as you see your daffodils begin to emerge.
Provide weekly deep waterings throughout the blooming season in weeks when you do not have ample rain. Stop watering when your daffodils stop blooming.
10. Can you mow down daffodils after they stop blooming?
It is very important to leave daffodil foliage standing until it dries up and dies back on its own. During this time, the leaves take energy from the sun and produce food for the bulbs.
Without this period to conduct photosynthesis and store energy for the winter, the plants will not be able to bloom in the spring. When the foliage is completely spent, you can prune or mow it and mulch over your resting bulbs.
If the unsightly foliage is bothersome to you, plan to plant shrubbery or low-growing, fall-blooming annuals or perennials around your daffodils to disguise and distract from the dying leaves.
11. Should you deadhead spent daffodil flowers?
Daffodil flowers should be removed as soon as they begin to fade. Cut them off close to the ground using a very sharp, sterilized implement.
When you remove the dying flowers, you save the plant a great deal of energy it would have otherwise spent producing seed.
12. How often should you feed daffodils?
Give your daffodils a feeding with liquid fish emulsion (mixed with water according to packaging directions) and granular plant food with an NPK ratio of 5-10-5 early in the springtime as soon as you see the plants begin to emerge from the soil.
You can repeat this treatment early in the summer and in early fall. Always accompany fertilizing with a very thorough watering to be sure the fertilizer is safely diluted and correctly dispersed deeply into the soil.
13. What should I do if my daffodils don‘t bloom?
Daffodils growing in one place for a number of years will naturally multiply. When this happens, they can become crowded and may stop blooming.
If you find that you have a patch of daffodils that are not blooming, enjoy their foliage for this season, but when that foliage dies back, dig the bulbs up and divide them.
Luckily, this is not something you have to do very often. Unfortunately, every three to five years is the norm.
Amend the soil in the hole the bulbs came from and put back a few (if you so desire). Then, you can plant their offspring at other locations around your yard and garden or share them with your gardening friends and relations.