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Everything you need to know about planting daffodil bulbs

By Peggie Roder

Daffodils are true bulbs and like all true bulbs are perennials, with a life span of three to five years, during which time they self- propagate.

The dormant daffodil bulb consists of an embryo flower, short stem and tightly packed leaves.

The shoot of the bulbs along with roots begins to grow in early autumn.  As the soil warm up in the spring the leafy shoots begin to extend, although the flower is hidden deep within foliage. Once the flower blooms it can last for several weeks. Insects pollinate these flowers.

Selecting and purchasing bulbs

• This is one of the most important steps in insuring that you have success in growing bulbs for spring bloom.

•Bulbs are sold dry, in a dormant state

• Purchase in late summer or early fall. Buy as soon as bulbs become available.

• Order or purchase top quality bulbs. Top quality bulbs are available through specialty mail order companies, plant nurseries, garden centers and on line. Take care when purchasing from big box stores, these bulbs may have not been climate controlled and have gotten to warm.

• Make sure bulbs are solid to the touch and do not give when pressed. To test, invert the bulb, press your finger or thumb firmly against the ring that forms the root. If it is not solid, do not purchase the bulb.

• Avoid bulbs that are dried out.

• Look for mold growing on bulb, if found, do not buy.

• Planting bulbs outdoors

Preparing the soil

• Thoroughly dig planting area seven day prior to planting.

• Add 2-3 inch layer of organic matter, such as leaf mold, pulverized-composted pine bark.

• Dig in some general slow release fertilizer, use recommended amount for size of area.

• Dig in some composted manure, well below the level at which the bulb will be planted. Daffodil benefit from manure enriched soil.

• Be sure the manure is composted. If not, it could damage the bulb.

• Good drainage is essential for daffodil.  Bulbs will rot if soil stays wet.

• Bulbs should be planted within a few days after purchase. If this is not possible they can be stored in vegetable storage bin of refrigerator. Do not store in same bin with apples. Apples give off a gas that can harm the bulbs. Bulbs can be stored in this manner for four to six weeks.

Planting the bulb

• A graduated bulb planter is useful in determining the correct depth to plant the bulb.  Looking like a trowel, it has measurement marked along the side. Useful in determining spacing also.

• If you are planting individual bulbs the hole should be twice the depth of the bulb for small bulbs and up to five times the depth for larger ones.

• Insert the bulb with pointed end up.

• Cover with soil; firm the surface, water well. Wait for signs of growth.

• If you are planting a larger quantity of bulbs, it is both easier and quicker to dig an area to the overall depth required and plant the bulbs together.

Daffodils can be planted in pots, window boxes. These types of planting require different growing medium, and is not covered in this article.

The Lafayette County Master Gardeners is a service organization that provides assistance to the Lafayette County Extension Service. To arrange for a free consultation with a Master Gardener about your gardening challenges, call the Lafayette County Extension office at 662-234-4451. Lcmga.org