When to cut daffodils?

Encourage Your Tulips To Come Back

  • Plant bulbs in a well-drained area. This is always good advice for planting bulbs, and is essential for naturalizing or perennializing. Wet soil promotes fungus and disease and can even rot bulbs. Adding organic matter such as well rotted cows manure, compost or peat moss can also help facilitate drainage.
  • Plant tulip bulbs deep — about eight inches deep, measuring from the base of the bulb. Note: If you add mulch to the surface after planting, include its depth as a part of your overall planting depth. (For instance, 5 inches deep in soil plus 3 inches of mulch = 8 inches deep.)
  • Water bulbs after planting. Though standing water is not good for bulbs, sufficient water is necessary to get them growing. Water is especially important right after planting to ensure that the plants develop a strong root system before going into winter dormancy.
  • In the spring, after the blossoms have passed their peak, clip off the flower heads and allow the green foliage to die back. This technique lets the plant put all its energy into building a strong bulb for next season.
  • Fertilize in fall and spring. For those who treat tulips as annuals – as many gardeners do with great success and satisfaction – no fertilizer is necessary. Healthy Dutch bulbs (which are not seeds, but living plants), have more than enough food stored up to ensure a vigorous bloom the first season. But if a come-back performance is desired, low nitrogen fertilizer such as well-rotted cow manure, or special bulb fertilizer is recommended at fall planting time and each fall thereafter. If you did not fertilize in fall, in spring, as the shoots first appear, you can add a high nitrogen, fast-release fertilizer can help promote future performance.

Following these simple guidelines will increase the success of many homeowners in improving the repeat performance of their tulips.

But regardless of whether it’s the magnificent crop of color from the first year’s planting, or the slightly diminished but still lovely stand of flowers planted a few years back, the tulip remains one of the world’s best loved flowers. And fall is the time to plant them.

Tulips are an elegant blossom, long valued for their beauty and grace. Tulips have a place in the garden and in cut flower bouquets, or they may be planted in indoor pots to bring color to your home. Tulips are grown from bulbs and may blossom year after year in your flowerbeds, depending upon your climate.


Whether tulips function as a perennial or an annual depends upon your climate.Tulips are native to Eastern Turkey and the foothills of the Himalaya mountains, regions with a cold winter and hot, dry summer. If you live in a suitable climate, you can plant tulip bulbs in the fall. They will begin to root as soon as they’re planted and continue gradually growing a root system throughout the cold winter. Warming temperatures in the springtime trigger rapid growth and produce stems and eventual flowers.

Tulips as an Annual

If you do not have the cold winter and hot summer tulips require for perennial growth, you can artificially create these conditions to enjoy tulips in your garden. Some gardeners opt to re-use their bulbs each year, while others simply discard the old bulbs and start over with new ones each year. If you do want to reuse your tulip bulbs from year to year, cut the flower short approximately three weeks after blooming. Six to eight weeks later, dig the bulbs out of the ground and store. Chill at 40 degrees to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to 10 weeks before re-planting. Expect blooms six to eight weeks after planting. If you have a bulb garden or forced bulbs, like the gardens sold by ProFlowers, you can save your bulbs to plant in the garden the next year.

Forcing Tulips

Tulips can be grown indoors, as can many other flower bulbs, by forcing the plant. Forcing requires a chilling period of 10 to 12 weeks. Plant bulbs in a light soil mixture, then store in a cool, dark place. Once they have a 2-inch shoot, gradually move them to a slightly warmer and brighter space. Continue this move in small steps until your tulips rest in a sunny window. Forcing allows you to enjoy tulips year-round. If you don’t want to force your own bulbs or would like to surprise someone with forced bulbs, the ProFlowers Pretty in Pink Bulb Garden is ideal.

Cutting Tulips

If you grow tulips in your cutting garden as an annual or a perennial, you should cut them when the flower is fully colored but unopened. Tulips continue to grow after they are cut and will open in the vase. Cutting at this point will allow you to enjoy your bouquet as long as possible. If you order a bouquet of tulips, like the ProFlowers Purple Tulips or Holland Queen Tulips, expect some blossoms to be fully open and others partially closed. Keep cut tulips out of direct sunlight to keep your bouquet beautiful.

Yard and Garden: Caring for Daffodils

My daffodils produce foliage in spring, but no longer bloom. Why?

If the daffodils aren’t blooming, the plants weren’t able to store enough food in their bulbs in the previous year. Daffodil foliage typically persists for four to six weeks after blooming. During this period, the daffodil foliage is manufacturing food. Much of the food is transported down to the bulbs. In order to bloom, daffodils must store adequate levels of food in their bulbs. Cutting off the foliage before it has died back naturally may prevent the plants from storing adequate food in the bulbs.

Allow the daffodil foliage to die completely before removing it. Plants in partial shade in May and June may not be able to store enough food in their bulbs because of insufficient sunlight. Dig up daffodils growing in partial shade when the foliage has died back and plant the bulbs in a location that receives at least six hours of direct sun per day. If given good care and favorable growing conditions, weak (non-blooming) daffodils can be encouraged to flower again.

Should I tie or braid the daffodil leaves after the daffodils are done blooming?

After flowering, daffodil foliage typically persists for four to six weeks. Daffodil foliage tends to get floppy and look a little unruly. However, it’s best to leave the foliage alone and not tie or braid the leaves. Daffodil foliage manufactures food for the plant. Adequate amounts of food must be stored in the bulbs in order for the daffodils to bloom the following spring. Tying the leaves together with rubber bands or braiding the foliage reduces the leaf area exposed to sunlight. As a result, the leaves manufacture smaller amounts of food. Plus, tying or braiding the foliage is a time-consuming chore.

Is it necessary to deadhead daffodils?

Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers. While tulips should be deadheaded immediately after flowering, it is not necessary to deadhead daffodils. The vigor of tulip bulbs quickly declines if tulips are not promptly deadheaded and seed pods are allowed to develop. However, seed pod formation on daffodils has little impact on plant vigor. Some gardeners do deadhead daffodils for aesthetic reasons as the spent flowers/seed pods are not attractive.

When can I remove daffodil foliage?

Daffodil foliage should not be removed until it has turned brown and died. The length of time it takes the foliage to die back depends on bulb type, weather and other factors. The foliage of daffodils usually dies back four to six weeks after flowering. The foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs is performing a vital function, manufacturing food for the underground bulbs. Premature removal of the plant foliage reduces plant vigor and bulb size, resulting in fewer flowers next spring. After the foliage has turned brown, it can be safely cut off at ground level and discarded.

When can I move daffodil bulbs?

Daffodil bulbs can be dug up and replanted as soon as the foliage dies back (turns brown) in early summer. Daffodils can also be dug up and replanted in fall (October). If you would like to move daffodil bulbs in fall, mark the site when the foliage is present so the bulbs can be located in October. Daffodils perform best when planted in well-drained soils in full sun. The planting site should receive at least six hours of direct sun per day.

Q: I planted daffodil bulbs last fall. In the past, they only lived one year. Can I get them to bloom again next year or for many years?

A: Daffodils thrill us with cheery yellow, white or bicolor flowers in February, or even January. They often do naturalize in our region, coming back to bloom again year after year.

If they are growing in pots they are unlikely to bloom the following year, and are probably best discarded after you enjoy the flowers. But if the daffodils are instead growing in your garden, you have a good chance of getting them to naturalize.

Your first post-bloom task is to remove any stems that bore flowers. This keeps the plant from wasting energy on them, especially should the spent flowers form seeds.

Your second task is to care for the post-bloom leaves. They need water and unshaded light until they start to die back, but not fertilizer. (Add fertilizer as you plant the bulbs in fall and work a little into the soil in future autumns.)

Do not tie daffodil leaves in knots. I don’t know how this common practice began, but it limits the plants’ ability to photosynthesize, so they can’t make good bulbs to bloom the following spring.

Finally, keep the soil where daffodils are planted relatively dry in summer. Daffodil ancestors are from summer-dry Mediterranean regions. The bulbs may decay in wet summer soil.

Gardeners experience two problems in following this advice: unsightly leaves after bloom; and finding a place where daffodils will not be too wet in the summer.

If these problems seem insurmountable, you could treat the bulbs as annuals. Just dig them out, as you would non-naturalizing tulip plants, discard them and buy new bulbs in fall.

To hide the leaves as they decline, you can use companion plants. Good choices include many small flowering annual plants, including nigella, viola, sweet alyssum or, my favorite, the pink and lavender-flowered Virginia stock (Malcolmia maritima). Taller plants, such as California poppy or nasturtium, must be managed so they don’t overshade the daffodils.

While daffodils can take some summer water, don’t try to naturalize them in a bed that you will be watering amply in summer. Make sure nearby plants are somewhat drought-tolerant; if you use drip irrigation, make sure you don’t have an emitter right next to a daffodil. You can put daffodil bulbs among other summer-dry plants, such as succulents, for a fresh and attractive combination.

Pam Peirce is the author of “Golden Gate Gardening.” Visit her website, www.pampeirce.com. Email: [email protected]

Community-garden opportunities in San Francisco

Since the demise of the private nonprofit San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), which had closed by 2004, there hasn’t been an umbrella organization overseeing San Francisco’s community gardens, but the gardens themselves have continued to thrive. About 40 percent are on San Francisco Recreation and Park Department property, the rest on both private and public lands.

Mei Ling Hui, Rec and Park’s Community Garden and Urban Agriculture program manager, helps match aspiring urban gardeners to plots and answers other questions along the way. She can be reached at [email protected] or 415-831-6846. The program’s website (https://sfrecpark.org/park-improvements/urban-agriculture-program-citywide/community-gardens-program/) is in the process of being updated with a comprehensive list of gardens on both public and private land. I hope to have more to report soon, but here are some upcoming free San Francisco events hosted by Rec and Parks’ Community Gardens Program to announce now:

10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 23: The grand reopening of McLaren Park Community Garden, located next to McLaren Park at Leland Avenue and Hahn Street. The garden has been roughly quadrupled in size, but still has a waiting list. There will be family-friendly gardening activities, including planting.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 30: Garden Resource Day at Alemany Farm, 700 Alemany Blvd. There will be free compost and/or mulch (in a bucket you provide), free plant starts, and seed to borrow from the seed lending library. Bring your tools and work on them at the tool maintenance center.

11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 27: Earth Day Celebration at Alemany Farm, 700 Alemany Blvd. Details are still being worked out. Learn more closer to the date of the event at the Alemany Farm website (www.alemanyfarm.org) or email [email protected]

10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 4: Seed Saving and Plant Propagation workshop at Potrero del Sol Community Garden (Potrero and Cesar Chavez streets). RSVP required at [email protected] or 415-831-6846.

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Daffodil Leaves – When Do I Prune Daffodils

Daffodils are among the most popular spring blooming bulbs grown in the garden. But, when the flower is gone, when is the right time to remove daffodil leaves? If you are wondering, “When do I prune daffodils,” you will find the answer below.

When to Cut Back Daffodils

Daffodil leaves should not be cut back until after they have turned yellow. Daffodils use their leaves to create energy, which is then used to create next year’s flower. If you cut back daffodils before the leaves have turned yellow, the daffodil bulb will not produce a flower next year.

When Do I Prune Daffodil Flowers?

While daffodil leaves must be left on the plant, daffodil flowers can be cut off of the plant, if you want. Spent flowers will not hurt the plant, but they do look unsightly. Removing spent flowers is optional, but if a seedpod forms, it may be best to remove it.

Pruning Daffodil Seedpods

Daffodils can be grown from seed, but they may take years to produce blooms when grown from seed. Therefore, it is best to not allow daffodils to produce seeds (they can be propagated from bulb divisions). If a flower stalk produces a seedpod, prune the seedpod off. This will allow the daffodil plant to focus its energy into producing a flower for next year.

Hiding Daffodil Leaves

Some gardeners find daffodil leaves to be a bit messy looking after the flowers are gone. If this is the case, you can do some strategic planting to hide the daffodil leaves until they die. Growing plants in front of or with daffodils that grow and bloom slightly later will help hide the leaves. Some camouflage candidates include:

  • Peonies
  • Daylilies
  • Lupines
  • Hostas

Time to deadhead

Our daffodils have spent their blooms for this spring, and now the enlarging but not-so-beautiful seed pods give me pause to ponder, “To deadhead or not to deadhead?”
In its chapter on “Herbaceous Plants,” The University of Maryland Master Gardener Handbook explains “deadheading (removing old flowers)” this way: “Remove spent flowers and seed pods to maintain vigorous growth of plants and ensure neatness and continuous blooming.”

Later a subsection on “Bulbs” adds: “When flowers fade, cut them off to prevent seed formation. Development of seed pods take stored food from the bulbs. Deadheading may also promote longer bloom periods. Avoid removing any foliage.”
As the photo shows, the flowers of our daffodils have faded and seed pods are developing. Removing the developing seed pods will permit the plants to store more food for blooms next spring, which I think is the biggest argument in favor of deadheading. Since daffodils bloom only once a year, deadheading won’t cause them to re-bloom this spring.
I’m not overly concerned with deadheading to keep our beds “neat” because, well, seed pods are part of the natural reproduction process, and I think that’s pretty “neat” in itself. Another reason is that daffodils I don’t deadhead seem to flourish just as well as those I do.
In recent years I’ve thought of another argument against deadheading—and any other garden work, for that matter. It takes time, energy, and—for old joints and muscles—risks aches or pains the next day or two.
The other day my veggie gardens were super-saturated from recent rains, showers, more rains, and more showers, so I had some time to deadhead. Where were my pruners, so, as the Handbook says, I could “cut” off the seed pods?
Well, I used pruners for many years. You know the routine: Open pruners, slip blades down and around a seed stalk, snip, stalk falls into the other hand or onto the ground. Repeat, repeat, repeat scores or hundreds of times.
Then I discovered a much quicker way to deadhead daffodils based on my observation that the large, hollow flower stems often bend over during strong winds. I experimented and discovered that if I run my thumb and first finger down a flower stem about six inches and then bend the stem and snap it all at once, presto, I’ve deadheaded that daffodil.
Fast? Oh, yes! I can deadhead five stems with my fingers in the same time it would take me to deadhead one with pruners.
Any downsides? Yes, I have to bend-and-snap the stalk to make a clean break. If I pull directly up—which I do occasionally—I can rip the whole plant from the ground.
A warning: Bend-and-snap works on daffodils because of their large, hollow stems. It doesn’t work well on tulips, for example, with their more solid stems.
P.S.: You may be wondering why I don’t just shear everything—the leaves and seed stems—to the ground. The reason is that daffodils still need their leaves to make food that will recharge their bulbs for next year’s spring celebration. You can remove the leaves when they wither and turn yellow, usually in early to mid-June.

Deadheading Daffodils Video

Once our daffodils start to go over, the temptation is to mow them off or neatly tie up the leaves. Yet these practices deprive the bulbs of the essential nutrients they need to enable the bulb to store up enough food to produce next year’s flowers.

However, deadheading your daffodils means that they don’t waste their effort in producing unwanted seeds so yet more food is available for the bulb.

Sam Youd, Head gardener at Tatton Gardens, shows us how it’s done.

Deadheading Your Daffodils Video

The tradition of neatly tying up the leaves after flowering or mowing off when they’re in a lawn prevents the plant from storing nutrients in the bulb to power next year’s growth.

Deadheading daffodils stops the plant from putting energy into producing a seed pod and concentrates it into the bulb instead.

If you combine deadheading with applying a good dose of low-nitrogen or general purpose fertiliser, you will ensure a marvellous display next year from the bulbs.

With daffodils in a lawn, try to avoid mowing them for as long as possible. The ideal is to mow when the daffodil’s foliage has died back.

If you do mow off as soon as they have flowered you will end up with blind plants (just foliage, no flower) next year.

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