Learn how to plant daffodil bulbs in the fall to enjoy beautiful flowers in the early spring.
Nothing says spring like the arrival of daffodil flowers with their cheerful trumpet-shaped flowers that brighten the spring garden and welcome the warmer, brighter days ahead.
These spring-blooming perennials are a favorite as they are easy to grow and can be enjoyed year after year! Growing daffodils is a must for any gardener who longs to see the first glimpse of spring in their backyard when winter is nearing its’ end.
With this simple guide, you will learn everything you need to know about growing daffodils (narcissus). Including how to plant daffodil bulbs in the fall for blooms the following spring and great daffodil varieties to grow.
What are Daffodils
Daffodils, also known by their botanical name narcissus, are spring flowering bulbs that are easy to grow. While their bloom times can vary, they generally erupt into bloom after crocuses and before tulips.
Daffodils multiply quickly and return to bloom again each spring. There are many different varieties, flowering from early to late spring.
Suitable for hardiness zones 3-8, they grow 14-24 inches tall and are available in a wide range of flower shapes and colors. From the common yellow flowers to pastel pinks, creams, peach, and white.
There are many different shapes of daffodil flowers, such as trumpet, large-cupped, small-cupped, single, and doubles. It is easy to find a daffodil variety that fits into your gardening style.
By planting a variety of various types of daffodils, you can enjoy 4 to 6 weeks of these beautiful flowers every spring.
Why Should You Plant Daffodils
Perrenials: Daffodils are one of the best spring bulbs to plant in the fall. They are perennials that will return year after year with little maintenance and attention required.
Variety: With hundreds of cultivars, there are daffodils that fit any color scheme and preference. While yellow is the most common bloom color, they also bloom in white, peach, cream, and orange.
Bloom Time: Daffodils will bloom at different times throughout the spring garden season. So, plant a wide variety to enjoy blooms from the early season, mid-season, and late season which can extend the daffodil bloom time over two to three months.
Multiply: Daffodils multiply in the ground through bulb division. The original bulb will form new bulbs underground, producing more blooms with more foliage and flowers. The bulbs will stay attached together unless they are dug up and divided.
Pest Resistant: Daffodils contain a toxic liquid called lycorine in their bulb and stem. Therefore, they are not bothered by deer, rabbits, and other pesky critters.
Cold Hardy: Daffodils are one of the best cold hardy perennials. They bloom in late winter or early spring, sometimes before the last frost. Snow will not harm their foliage. However, if it is going to get really cold or remain below freezing for several days, use an old blanket or sheet to cover the plants.
Where to Plant Daffodil Bulbs
Sunny Location: Daffodils do best in a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. They can tolerate partial shade but bloom better in full sun.
Well-Drained Soil: Daffodils are not fussy about the soil but should be planted in an area with free-draining soil. If planted in poorly drained soil, daffodil bulbs will rot.
Under Trees: Daffodils bloom in the spring before many deciduous trees leaf out. Planting them in a naturalized woodland area and under trees will provide a welcoming burst of spring color for years to come.
Containers: Daffodils grow well in containers, making it easy to have springtime blooms on the porch or patio. Miniature daffodils can be planted in window boxes.
The most important thing to remember is that the bulbs can not freeze. Bulbs planted in containers should be kept at 35 to 45°F for at least 8 weeks, so you would need to find a place to keep the containers during winter.
Near Perrenials: Daffodils will bloom much earlier than most summer-loving perennials. I chose to underplant my roses with daffodils as they will continue to multiply each year, filling in the space around my roses.
When to Plant Daffodil Bulbs
The ideal planting time for daffodil bulbs is from mid-fall through early winter, September to late November, depending on where you live.
Daffodil bulbs need a cold period to develop their roots and prepare for spring. A good rule of thumb to follow for planting bulbs in the fall is to let soil temperature be your guide. The soil should be below 60 degrees F, workable, and not frozen.
How to Plant Daffodil Bulbs in the Fall
Daffodils have two immediate necessities: sunshine and good drainage. Daffodils are easy to grow; here is a detailed look at how to plant daffodil bulbs.
For the best varieties of daffodils, I suggest ordering your bulbs online. Once you receive the bulbs, they should be planted within a month for the best results.
Whether you order the bulbs online or purchase them from a local store, always inspect the bulbs. The large bulbs should be firm, without any soft or visibly rotting ones.
Depth and Spacing for Daffodils
Dig a hole or trench 6″ deep and about 12″ wide using a hand trowel or bulb planter. The general rule is to plant the daffodil bulb about three times the diameter of the bulb. So, large daffodil bulbs should be planted about 6 inches deep.
Place the base of the bulbs into the hole with the pointy end up, placed where the bulbs are about 4 inches apart. Cover the bulbs with soil.
Water and Mulch
To help the bulb’s roots grow quickly, it is important to water the bulbs after they have been planted. Then add a layer of mulch to help retain water and provide a neat and tidy appearance in the garden.
There are hundreds of different daffodil cultivars in many styles of blooms and colors. To keep track of which varieties are growing, consider adding a label to be able to reference later.
Wait Until Spring
Now, wait patiently for winter to end and for spring to surprise you with bountiful blooms.
Beginning in late winter and all the way up until early spring, the tips of the leaves will be the first thing you see arising from the soil.
When the foliage is about 6″ tall, flower buds will start to appear. The stems will gradually get taller, and the buds will grow. Within three to six weeks, you should see beautiful blooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Month to Plant Daffodil Bulbs?
The best month to plant daffodil bulbs ranges from September to November, depending on where you live. Plant your daffodil bulbs when the soil is below 60 degrees F, workable, and not frozen.
Do Daffodils Come Back Every Spring?
Once planted, daffodils come back every spring. The bulbs can stay where they were planted and will continue to produce flowers year after year during their growing season.
Do Daffodil Bulbs Multiply in the Ground?
Daffodils multiply in the ground through bulb division. The original bulb will form new bulbs underground, producing more bloom with more foliage and flowers. The bulbs will stay attached together unless they are dug up and divided.
How Many Daffodil Bulbs Should I Plant Together?
Daffodils look best when they are planted together in clusters rather than in straight rows. When planting daffodils, plant them in groups of 5 to 10 bulbs. Instead of mixing varieties, plant one single variety together to create a better visual effect.
Should I Soak Daffodil Bulbs Before Planting?
No, you do not need to soak daffodil bulbs before planting them in the ground. When planting in the fall, the soil should have sufficient moisture to provide what the bulbs require. If the soil is dry, you can water the bulbs right after planting them.
How Many Daffodil Bulbs Should You Plant in One Hole?
Daffodil bulbs are best planted in clusters of at least 5 bulbs for a natural look. Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep and about a foot across that can hold 5 to 10 bulbs, placed 4 or 5 inches apart.
How Deep to Plant Daffodil Bulbs
The general rule for planting daffodil bulbs in the fall is to plant them about three times the bulb’s diameter in the ground. Generally, this is about 6″ deep for most bulbs.
How Far Apart to Plant Daffodil Bulbs
Daffodil bulbs should be planted 4 to 5 inches apart, giving the bulbs room to multiply over time.
How Late Can You Plant Daffodil Bulbs
Once the ground is frozen, it will be too late to plant daffodil bulbs. For the best results in spring blooms, plant bulbs at least a month before the ground freezes to help the bulbs become established in the ground.
Where to Buy Daffodil Bulbs (Narcissus)
The best place to buy daffodil bulbs is from a small family flower farm. Marryn, who owns The Farmhouse Flower Farm, is a great farm from which to purchase your flower bulbs.
Daffodil Varieties to Grow
Here are just a few of the beautiful varieties grown and harvested at The Farmhouse Flower Farm. These will be the varieties blooming in my gardens come springtime.
A darling in the garden, white flowers with a hint of orange in the center. One of the most fragrant varieties, just a tiny handful of these beauties will fill an entire room with the sweet smell of spring.
Purchase: Bridal Crown
Gorgeous tall creamy blooms with ruffled centers in shades of peach & cream. An absolute stunner!
The most fragrant in the field, this little cutie will absolutely steal your heart. Little cream-fluffy flowers that almost look like buttered popcorn have an incredible fragrance and will definitely make you smile.
The first in the field to bloom, Ice King is a stunner. Gorgeous flowers in shades of vanilla and lemon yellow with pleats around the outer petals and fluffy centers.
Purchase: Ice King