Autumn is the time to plant spring bulbs. Tuck papery-shelled daffodil bulbs into the ground after the first frost, and you’ll have handfuls of cheerful, sunshine-colored flowers next spring.
“Daffodils are smart,” says Becky Heath, who grows and sells bulbs with her husband, Brent, at their bulb company in Gloucester, Va. “They come up in the spring, when the weather is nice. They’ll grow anywhere there is a discernible winter, where temperatures drop into the 40s for at least two or three weeks.”
Easy-to-grow daffodils are seldom bothered by pests. Because they return year after year, and often naturalize, or multiply each year, they’re worth the money and effort.
Even if you live where winters are mild, Heath says, you can plant different types of daffodils, such as jonquils, paperwhites or tazettas.
Heath’s tips for growing daffodils:
Plant bulbs in a spot with good drainage and full sunlight.
Place bulbs 6 to 8 inches deep and cover with mulch.
Normally, daffodils don’t need fertilizer, but if you add it, use a slow-release formula.
When flowering stops, don’t cut, braid, bend or tie the foliage, which needs sunlight to make next year’s flowers. Remove leaves after they fall over and turn yellow.
To camouflage fading foliage, plant phlox, peonies and daylilies.
- Try the Heaths’ raised-bed method for growing daffodils without digging or tilling: Put 6 inches of compost on top of the ground. Add the bulbs and cover with 6 inches of mulch, preferably pine straw.