The flower of the daffodil makes a striking statement in the earliest stretch of spring. The yellow and white glow of the blooms signals to all that winter is over and warm summer breezes are not far off. Plant this fabulous bulb now, in your lawn or in containers, and reap rich rewards next spring.
Daffodils come in an amazing array of colors and shapes, but they're best known as a splash of yellow across a field or a streak of white along a fence line. They perform well in areas with cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers but have been grown successfully all over the South. Daffodils are particularly good flowers for naturalizing in fields or front lawns, where, with a small initial investment, you'll have an impressive show of color for years.
Naturalizing daffodils entails selecting an appropriate site first. A sunny, gently sloping field is ideal, but these flowers can grow in a number of places as long as they get at least six hours of sunlight and have good drainage. If you're planning a naturalized look for your daffodils, consider taking a handful of bulbs and tossing them into the area where you would like for them to grow. Plant the bulbs where they've landed, and you'll end up with a natural feel instead of a formal row. Daffodils prefer to be planted in the fall, about 6 inches deep or three times their height.
Once they have flowered in spring, let the foliage mature and yellow for a few months. If you don't cut them back to the ground until midsummer, the bulbs will have a chance to stock up on energy and prepare for another big show next year. Fertilize them each fall with a balanced 10-10-20 product or a liquid fish emulsion. This makes a big difference in the bulbs' ability to come back every year and multiply.
Purchasing Daffodil Bulbs
- Get the biggest bulbs possible.
- Look for firm, heavy ones.
- Don't break them apart.
- If nurseries in your area no longer have wide selections of bulbs, buy them through mail-order sources such as Brent and Becky's Bulbs, toll-free 1-877-661-2852 or www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com, and John Scheepers, (860) 567-0838 or www.johnscheepers.com.
- Don't store for more than three weeks.
This article is from the October 2005 issue of Southern Living.