Grow Your Own: Daffodils

It’s that time of year again when all of the daffodils bloom seemingly out of nowhere and remind us all that spring is on its way.

We’ve once again caught up with gardener Jude to see what she recommends when it comes to keeping the bright and cheery flowers in your own garden.

Should I plant daffodils in my border, my lawn, or in pots?

Daffodils (Narcissus) come in many different sizes, small and large and they really herald the arrival of spring! They really make me feel so joyous and cheery after the gloom of the winter.

They work well in borders, lawns, and in pots and can be planted anywhere in full sun or partial shade, in soil that is moist but well drained, not too dry.

At Winterbourne we have a wealth of Narcissus naturalised in lawns, planted in several of the borders around the garden, and also in terracotta pots in and around the Alpine House.

The larger varieties, such as, N. ‘February Gold’ are particularly good naturalised in lawns, whilst smaller varieties such as N. tazetta do well in pots. If planted in pots then they need to be planted in 50/50 compost and horticultural grit. This ensures that the daffodils are nice and well drained.

How do I look after my daffodil plants?

Daffodils need to be planted in September/October for a good spring display. They also need to be planted twice their own depth whether they are planted in the ground or in pots.

It is important to keep them well fed for about 6-weeks after flowering has finished in order to promote good flowering the following year. We use Chempak Number 3 here at Winterbourne which is high in potassium (potash), stabilises the green growth of the bulb, makes it stronger, and promotes future flowering. You can also use a granular feed – such as Growmore – if the area you’re feeding is large.

Regular dead heading is also a good idea and something that we do here at Winterbourne. This stops the daffodils going to seed and continues the flowering display

Why aren’t my daffodils flowering even though it’s spring?

There are several reasons why daffodils might not flower; it is what is known as blind.

This is usually caused by not preparing the site where they are planted properly, not deadheading them and allowing them to go to seed, or not planting them deep enough and in overcrowded clumps.

Another common reason is not allowing the foliage to die down and go yellow naturally for about 6 weeks after flowering. Don’t be tempted to mow them off or cut them down whilst the foliage is still green.

What are the best varieties to look out for?

Some of my favourite daffodils are N. papyraceus‘Ziva’. This – as the name suggests – has papery white flowers and is very pretty. They flower in late winter and we have them displayed

in our glasshouses here at Winterbourne. You could try them on your windowsill at home.

N. ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ has lovely yellow flowers and sometimes flowers as early as New Year! We have some planted in terracotta pots ready for our bulb displays on the Terrace and around the Alpine House.

I also get very excited when I see N. ‘Tete-a-Tete’ opening here at Winterbourne where it is planted along the front drive and also along the Nut Walk. A lovely dwarf variety, it is very tidy in borders and doesn’t look too messy when it’s dying back.

Why don’t you give some of these a go at home? Don’t forget daffodil bulbs are best planted in the autumn, so get ready and keep your eyes peeled around September time for new varieties to plant.

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