- Preserving Daffodil Bulbs
- Winter Storage of Unplanted Daffodil Bulbs
- When should I plant my bulbs?
- How do I store my bulbs before I am ready to plant them?
- Is it necessary to refrigerate bulbs before planting?
- How deep do I plant my bulbs?
- What does stagger planting mean and how do I do it?
- I’m not very good at gardening are there some bulbs that are easier to look after than others?
- How do I know which way to plant my bulb?
- Do bulbs need a special potting mix or fertilizer?
- I don’t have much space, can I plant bulbs in a container?
- I have bulbs from last year, can I use these?
- Curing Daffodil Bulbs: Guide To Digging And Storing Daffodil Bulbs
- Digging and Storing Daffodil Bulbs
- How to Cure Daffodil Bulbs
- A New Heartsease…
- Growing Daffodils in New Zealand
Preserving Daffodil Bulbs
Daffodils are among the most beautiful signs of spring. The only downside is that their blooms last for a short while. However, it’s possible to make your daffodils bloom in the next year if you take a bit of care.
Many gardeners choose to leave daffodil bulbs in the ground for the whole year, while others opt to bring them up and safely store them until the planting season in the fall. If you do the storing you can plant the bulbs in another part of your garden when the time comes.
Tips for Saving Daffodil Bulbs
Here are some handy tips for saving daffodil bulbs for the next year:
Before you remove a bulb, make sure that the blossom and the leaves have faded on their own. Don’t cut them unless they are completely withered. It usually takes about six weeks for that to happen. It’s important to wait until the leaves are faded completely because even scraggly leaves can collect the sun’s energy through photosynthesis and thus, it’s valuable for the plant. This energy is actually pumped into the bulb so it can grown next year. If you really want to cut the spent flowers early, you may do that but make sure to leave the stem completely intact.
When the flower and the foliage have faded completely, cut them out. It’s important to cut at the soil line. In case you want to leave bulbs in the soil, this is all you have to do. Don’t worry about regular garden waterings or winter rains: they can’t bring the bulbs up before the spring. The bulbs will grow only when they’re ready. This is all you need to do if you decide to leave the bulbs in the ground: they will start growing the next year and produce more flowers.
If you want to bring the bulbs inside, after cutting the withered flower and leaves, dig deep into the soil several inches away from the bulb. Make sure to dig around the bulb but not to close to it or you might damage it. When the bulb is free from soil, bring it up carefully by using a clean spade full of soil and the bulb. Handle the bulb very gently. Any mistreatment or damage can cause a bulb to rot.
Before storing daffodil bulbs, make sure to clean them off by removing the excess soil. It’s best to use your fingers: a tool might damage the bulb. In case there are bulbs clumped together make sure to clean them with extra care. Chances are that such bulbs will separate on their own as you clean off the soil. In case there are bulbs firmly attached to each other, lave them be. When cleaning the bulbs, make sure to clean all of the “caked on” moist soil collected on the bulbs.
Once the bulbs are completely clean, inspect them carefully. You should search for any signs of deterioration, rot or damage. You should keep only completely healthy bulbs and discard the rest.
Before you store the bulbs, you should set them aside in the open air for about an hour. This is done to remove every last bit of the soil. The open air will make the remaining soil dry so you can remove it with ease. You can use a brush, rag or a towel to remove the last bits of the remaining soil.
Take a well-ventilated bag and place the bulbs in it. Make sure to place them loosely – don’t pack the bag with bulbs! You may also use an improvised bag such as the leg cut from a pair of pantyhose or nylon stockings. Alternatively, you may use a mesh onion bag. A good candidate for a storage bag is an inexpensive tulle from a fabric store. No matter what kind of a bag you use, make sure to close up the opening with twine or string and leave enough excess to form a loop for hanging. Alternatively, you may rest the bulbs without a bag. Place them on an old window screen set on two boxes of sawhorses so the air can freely flow underneath.
Hang the bag filled with bulbs in an area away from direct sunlight, heat or dampness. A good place for the bag are far corners of the garage (away from the door). However, avoid places near the laundry appliances or water heaters. The best spots are shady areas with good air circulation.
Let the bulbs cure. In case you’re using a bag and it’s hung indoors, leave them alone till the autumn. This is when you’ll take them and plant them in your garden. In case you use a window screen or if you leave the bulbs outside, bring them in and put them in a paper bag for storage in a dark, cool and well-ventilated spot to cure.
The autumn is the best time to replant the bulbs in the ground. Before you do it, inspect them again for any signs of disease or pests, such as rot or mildew. Discard all bulbs that don’t appear healthy. Plant the healthy bulbs in the garden and they will happily bloom in the spring.
Here are some additional tips for those who wish to grow daffodils:
- Growing daffodil bulbs is easy. It’s a great activity for children and beginner gardeners.
- The soil in which you plant the bulbs should be moist but not wet. Healthy soil is one of the most important factors for growing gorgeous daffodils.
- Daffodils prefer filtered or low sunlight. It’s therefore best to plant the bulbs around the base of a tree.
- If you have to lift the bulbs during flowering (or shortly afterwards), you much proceed with caution. Place them in a reserve bed and make sure to keep it moist so the foliage can mature. This will allow the bulbs to build up the food reserves needed for the next year’s flowers.
- You may also grow daffodils in pots. They do well in containers so they are easy to grow. If you wish to use pots, make sure to plant your daffodils in potting soil and not garden soil. It’s best to line a large basket or a wicker laundry basked with inexpensive burlap and fill it with potting soil. Plant the bulbs in the basket. For the best effect, you may also plant a few lobelia. This will make a gorgeous container bouquet.
Photo credit: Feggy Art and karenblakeman via photopin cc
Winter Storage of Unplanted Daffodil Bulbs
I had to dig up my daffodils in fall and put them in a basket with dirt for winter storage until I can replant elsewhere in spring. Do I need to leave the garage door open during the day?
I assume the bulbs are still dormant and your garage is not heated. In this case leave them in the garage. A bit of extra insulation prevents the soil temperature from dropping too far below freezing (that can turn your bulbs to mush) and warming up too soon resulting in early sprouting. Extreme cold can damage bulbs overwintered in this manner. Plant firm healthy bulbs outdoors as soon as the ground is workable. If the bulbs begin to grow in the garage before severe weather has passed, you can move them indoors to enjoy. Place them in a cool sunny window. With sufficient outdoor chilling you should have indoor blooms in about one month. Grow on as a houseplant and then move the bulbs to their permanent location outdoors once the damage of frost has passed. You may not get blossoms from the forced bulbs next year but they should give you beautiful blooms the following spring and for years to come.
By Bec Wenzel
I absolutely adore spring bulbs, the many different flowers they produce are simply amazing and unique, not to mention the wonderful fragrance that often accompanies the blooms, I’m sure you can all agree. However, it took me a long time as a gardener to really get into planting bulbs. It was always something I put in the too hard basket. Bulbs weren’t instant, I wanted flowers now! But every gardener and flower lover soon learns that patience can be so rewarding. Bulbs are something worth waiting for and I hope that many of you who have been considering growing spring bulbs yourselves will be willing to give it a go. There’s nothing quite like that first daffodil that appears in spring!
I have compiled a list of FAQs for you in the hope that you will join me on planting bulbs this season.
When should I plant my bulbs?
The planting of spring bulbs takes place in autumn and early winter. You can begin planting as soon as the end of February with some bulbs such as Ranunculus and Anemone. Other bulbs such as Tulips are better planted later in the season when the soil is cooler.
Early spring bulbs include: Crocus, early Tulips, early Daffodils and Anemone.
Mid spring bulbs include: Hyacinth, Daffodil, Freesia, Triumph Tulips and Ranunculus.
Late spring bulbs include: Gladioli, Dutch Iris, Bluebells and Fringed Tulips.
How do I store my bulbs before I am ready to plant them?
After digging your bulbs up, you can store your bulbs in a net or mesh bag, in a plastic bulb basket or loosely and unwrapped in a cool dry place. Try not to have the bulbs touching each other. The bulbs need good air flow wherever you choose to store them, that is very important.
In planting season if the specific bulbs you are planting require chilling in the fridge, opt to store them in paper bags away from fruits and vegetables.
Is it necessary to refrigerate bulbs before planting?
It is best to chill a range of bulbs in the refrigerator especially in the warmer regions where frosts are few. Bulbs such as Tulips, Hyacinth, Muscari, Daffodil and Crocus all benefit from having been pre-chilled. The act of chilling bulbs emulates a dormant winter stage that is close to the bulb’s natural climate. Don’t start chilling your bulbs until late March or April. If you pop them into the fridge too early, that can stunt the development of the buds. Keep the bulbs on the fridge door or somewhere they won’t get too cold. Keeping them at the back of the fridge may be too cold for them. Do not store fruit in the fridge at this time as ethylene can cause damage to the bulb, alternatively you can buy ethylene absorbing sachets which will help the bulbs not to be damaged by ethylene or by mould.
Chilling bulbs, even in cooler areas can often result in taller stems and earlier bloom times.
How deep do I plant my bulbs?
The depth at which to plant each bulb differs according to the size of the bulb. The general rule of thumb is to plant the bulb two times the size of the bulb’s diameter. Smaller bulbs such as Crocus and Anemone will be planted much closer to the surface then those of Tulips and Daffodils.
What does stagger planting mean and how do I do it?
Stagger planting is a way you can get a longer flowering time over the season. The idea is that you plant your bulbs in groupings two weeks apart for a period of 6-8 weeks. Once the first bulbs you planted have flowered and then begin to die, the next set will then start to flower so you will have a continual period of flowering. Choose bulbs that flower in early, mid and late spring to get flowers for the whole 3 months of spring.
I’m not very good at gardening are there some bulbs that are easier to look after than others?
Spring bulbs are amongst the easiest plants to grow. Lucky us! I would recommend planting Anemone’s, Daffodils, Ranunculus, Freesia, Dutch Iris and Tulips. Good Luck!
How do I know which way to plant my bulb?
Most bulbs have a tip, this is the end that goes up and not in the ground. The side you plant into the soil should be rounder and show signs of roots, this could just be that the bulb feels rougher to touch. With some bulbs it can be a bit harder to tell, in this case you can try planting the bulb on its side, the stem will find the way up to the light if it is planted this way.
Do bulbs need a special potting mix or fertilizer?
Use a good quality potting mix in pots and containers, you can even buy a specific bulb mix suitable for bulbs that will have the perfect blend of nutrients for your blooms. If planting in garden beds add in compost and organic matter such as sheep pellets. For your garden beds feeding your bulbs with a Bulb fertiliser can help you get the most out of them. Feed the plants when you first see stems appear, when they start to flower and once again when they begin to die down. The reason for feeding the bulbs when they begin to die down is to help with next seasons blooming as the bulb itself can store many of the nutrients for a healthy start. In containers use a more pot friendly fertilizer such as Tui Nova Tec Premium.
When the bulbs start to die down, it is advised not to remove the dying foliage. The nutrients from the decaying foliage can be stored within the bulb for next season.
I don’t have much space, can I plant bulbs in a container?
Bulbs can most definitely be planted in pots and containers, it is a great way to add colour around the home, perfect for renters and people limited on space as well as those that just like pots full of colour!
The choice in container is up to you but the most important consideration to make when choosing your pot is that it has good drainage. Most bulbs that sit in water will rot and die so having good drainage is essential.
Plant your bulbs just as you would plant them in the garden, get creative and splash out with a bit of colour.
If you plan on keeping your bulbs in containers for the next season, ensure the pot is kept in the shade or somewhere cool. This will help the bulbs bloom again next season. Bulbs kept in pots can get quite warm so ensuring this happens is the key to success.
I have bulbs from last year, can I use these?
Yes, if you have bulbs you didn’t end up planting last season, if they have been stored correctly, they should be able to be planted out. They will not last forever being out of the ground so get them in this season if you can. If the bulb still looks healthy and not dry or withered, then I would say plant it out!
Curing Daffodil Bulbs: Guide To Digging And Storing Daffodil Bulbs
Daffodil bulbs are extremely hardy bulbs that survive winters in the ground in all but the most punishing winters and hot summers. If you live north of USDA plant hardiness zone 3 or south of zone 7, it’s a good idea to store your daffodil bulbs during the off-season, a process also known as “curing.” Storage of daffodil bulbs is also a good idea if you want to replant the daffodils in a different location for the next blooming season. Read on to learn about curing daffodil bulbs and daffodil bulbs storage.
Digging and Storing Daffodil Bulbs
Remove the wilted blooms, then leave the daffodils alone until the foliage dies down and turns brown. Don’t rush; the green foliage absorbs sunlight, which provides energy the bulbs will use to create new blooms.
Cut the wilted foliage at soil level, then lift the bulbs carefully from the ground. Dig several inches from the plant to avoid slicing into the bulbs.
Use your hands to brush excess soil from the daffodil bulbs. Discard any bulbs that are soft, damaged or moldy. Place the bulbs in a warm, dry location for a few hours, or until any remaining mud has dried and the outer covering is dry and papery.
How to Cure Daffodil Bulbs
In the curing and storage of daffodil bulbs, brush off any dry soil, then place the dry bulbs in a ventilated bag, such as a mesh vegetable bag or a nylon stocking. Good locations for daffodil bulb storage include a garage or a cool, dry basement. Be sure the bulbs aren’t exposed to dampness, freezing temperatures, excessive heat or direct sunlight.
Let the bulbs cure until the next planting season, then inspect the bulbs and discard any that didn’t survive the storage period. Replant the bulbs four to six weeks before the average first frost in your area.
A New Heartsease…
Dried daffodils are pretty in a dish by themselves. I also dry and save them for making potpourri!
As these pretty blossoms dry on their stalks I snip them off and allow them to dry completely on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet.
Whether daffodil blossoms are drying in the garden or your lovely indoor flower arrangement, snip them below the green bulge at the base of the flower and let them dry.
When dried set the blossoms out in a bowl to enjoy, as is, or mix them into a homemade potpourri scented with a few drops of your favorite essential oils.
This lovely potpourri consists of things from my garden such as dried daffodils, yellow rose petals and buds, calendula, hops, shasta daisy petals, lavender, and white yarrow blossoms, plus a few drops of cedarwood, lemon, and frankincense essential oils.
To store the dried blossoms I lay them in a lidded paper box on a sheet of waxed paper until I need them. I store whole yellow roses and buds the same way.
Hops and other dried flowers are stored in Ziploc bags in the pantry away from light which will cause their colors to fade.
Overcrowding, a decline in bloom quality, or just a desire for an exciting new garden design – there are many reasons to need to move and divide daffodils. Moving and dividing the bulbs remains integral to growing daffodils, well worth getting the hang of. Daffodils can be lifted year round, even when “in the green,” although moving them while they bloom often means losing out on the following year’s bloom. When the leaves have mostly, but not all turned brown – the period of late spring to early summer – is ideal for the job. The bulbs have prepped up for next spring and the leaves can easily guide you to the bulbs’ location. Here’s what to do next…
- Use a shovel or pick to dig into the ground several inches away from the bulb clump and work your way around, taking care you don’t accidentally cut into the bulbs. Lift the clump and gently shake off excess soil to reveal the bulbs.
- Divide daffodil bulbs by twisting and pulling them off the clump. It usually takes a slight tug to separate the roots from the clump. Dispose of all damaged, mushy, infected looking bulbs.
- If you wish to replant right away, sow them at the new site at the original depth, making sure the leafy growth is above, the bulb and white stem are under the soil line. Water well after replanting.
- If you intend to replant daffodils in fall, you’ll need to store them properly so they can survive the stretch. Lay them all out indoors on clean, dry newspapers and leave them be for 7-10 days.
- Remove the leaves when they’re crisp and brown and gently brush off any dirt that’s still sticking to the bulbs. Go easy, there’s no need to wash the bulbs or to get them absolutely spot free.
- Place the bulbs in nylon or mesh bags (cleaned onion sacks will do just fine too), label them and then store them in a cool, dry but ventilated location.
- Come fall, take out bulbs and inspect them. A soft bulb is a dead bulb and should be safely disposed of. Plant the good ones in suitable locations, about 4-6” deep and water thoroughly immediately afterwards.
Shop All Daffodils
Growing Daffodils in New Zealand
Plant the bulbs when the soil has cooled – many local newspapers give details of soil temperatures on the weather page – wait until the temperature drops to 15 – 17 degrees centigrade before planting. In most parts of New Zealand this coincides with Easter – what a good time to plant the harbingers of Spring!
Choose a well drained, sunny spot. Dig deeply – daffodil roots require depth to feed adequately. A minimum of eighteen inches is recommended. Top growers take soil tests and fertilise accordingly. However for home gardeners adding a standard bulb fertilizer is adequate. Check the formulation of these mixes – the best are high on potash and low on nitrogen. Too much of the latter can result in fungus attacks. A side dressing of sulphate of potash is recommended twice during the growing season – June and October are the appropriate months. Organic gardeners may wish to use wood ash as an alternative. Lack of feeding is the most frequent explanation for daffodils failing to flower.
Plant the bulbs so that their top is at least two times as deep as the bulb is high (top of a 6cm bulbs is twelve centimetres deep). Plant bulbs deeper in light soils than in heavy soils. Space the bulbs about ten centimetres apart or further if you intend to leave them in the ground for longer than four years.
Another key factor in growing daffodils is water. Of course the best form of watering is rain! This pulls much needed oxygen from the atmosphere into the soil. Most daffodil growers believe that an average of one inch of rain per week during the growing season is the ideal. If this does not occur naturally then it is recommended that water be supplied via overhead sprinklers. Keep the watering going for two-three weeks after flowering. The natural food for the daffodil is its foliage – healthy strong foliage equals good bulb and good flowers in subsequent years. NEVER cut the foliage off (or even tie it in knots) – wait for it to die down naturally. Cutting off foliage is the second major reason for reduced flower numbers. If you spray other crops (eg roses, tomatoes) with a fungicide, do so for your daffodils as well. They will appreciate this treatment and will respond with lovely flowers next season.
Ideally daffodils should be lifted every three to four years. After this period of time they tend to clump up through vegetative reproduction and flowering quantity is reduced. As noted above if you intend to leave them in the ground for a lengthy period of time give them plenty of room, and frequent feeding. Some of the best known naturalized daffodil plantings (eg Middle Run in the Wairarapa) are grazed in the off season so receive natural fertilization.
If you do lift your bulbs clean them off carefully and store in a cool, airy space. Onion sacks are recommended for storage, not too many bulbs to a bag – like you they need to breathe and not sweat.
Growing Bulbs in Containers
We recommend that you join a local daffodil club and join the NDSNZ. You will find that daff people are very friendly and good at socializing! And perhaps you may even bring a flower or two to exhibit at their shows – take care though, Yellow Fever is very contagious!
Dr. Peter Ramsay