Daffodils sometimes take a back seat to tulips as the most popular spring flowering bulb. After all, a single red tulip in bloom is capable of standing out in any flower bed and you probably need a mass planting of daffodils to create the same impact. Tulips also come in a wide array of colors while daffodils are usually limited to yellow or white with perhaps a splash of orange or pink on occasion. While tulips may rule the spring flowering bulb world for many gardeners I’m here to sing the praises of daffodils as they deserve a little love too!
While daffodils may not make as dramatic a statement in the spring as tulips do they are a whole lot more reliable. Tulips often only bloom for a few seasons unless they find ideal growing conditions while daffodils are a whole lot more tolerant of less than ideal conditions and will bloom year after year. Daffodils are also more likely to multiply and over the years they can provide you, even more, bulbs to plant.
Similar to tulips, daffodils remain dormant most of the year and require the winter cold to release them from dormancy. This need for colder temperatures makes the fall the best time of year to plant daffodils. If you live in warmer USDA zones such as 8 through 11 you can still grow daffodils but you will need to put them in the refrigerator for a few weeks to simulate this needed cold period and then you will plant the bulbs in December or January. You may also need to dig up the bulb in these warmer zones and store it in a cold, dry place to plant again next year. If you live in a colder zone you can plant daffodils and leave them in the ground until they stop blooming. Once they stop blooming that is the signal that you need to dig up the bulb after the foliage ripens and replant the bulbs about 5 inches apart.
Most daffodil bulbs should be planted about 6 inches deep in well-drained soil that does not have a problem with standing water. The package of bulbs should tell you more precisely what depth to plant the bulb. Once you’ve dug a hole to the proper depth you will place the bulb with its tip facing upward. Fill in the holes, water them and that is it. You can feed daffodils some fertilizer now and when they set their flower bulbs in the spring but I’ve had plenty of daffodils that have done just fine without the boost of fertilizer.
One final advantage that daffodils have over tulips is that they are unappealing to deer. If you have problems with deer in your garden tulips can be there one day and gone the next. Daffodils, on the other hand, have built-in protection against deer. Daffodils have a naturally occurring chemical compound that makes them distasteful to deer and even possibly poisonous to them. So, if deer have a healthy respect for daffodils, maybe we should too!