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How to Care For Daffodils

How to Care For Daffodils

This popular and easy to grow flower will give a much needed golden burst of cheer in the world of winter. Yes – daffodil trumpets salute spring with a burst of bright and beautiful white, cream and soft or bright yellow. But how do you care for daffodils? Luckily they are just as fun and easy going to care for as they are to look at!

A brief history of daffodils

Part of the Amaryllidaceae family, along with other members such as Agapanthus, Clivia and Allium, daffodils and paperwhites come from a group of over 200 different species. There are 25 000 registered cultivars which have been divided down into 13 different types. They are characterised by the shape and size of their petals and corona.

Daffodils grow from bulbs native to the fields and woods of southern Europe. They evoke images of the coming of warmer days in an English countryside. 

Despite their cool climate beginnings, the daffodil has naturalised extraordinarily well around the world. Extremely frost-hardy, there are very few places in South Africa that they won’t flourish. All they need is a little tender loving care.

Drawing of daffodils in a white bowl with blue windmill

How to plant daffodils

The most important thing is not to plant them out too early. You’ll have to be patient and only pop them into the ground once the summer heat has left the soil. As we always say, if the ground is too cold to keep your sit-upon upon it, then it is time to get planting!

They will adapt to most well-drained garden soils but it is advisable to dig the beds over to a depth of at least 20cm. Add lots of compost and a dressing of bone meal to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. Find a nice dappled-shade spot, or one that receives full morning sun. Just make sure that the plants will be shielded from the brightest midday sun.

It is vital that you water deeply every 3-4 days from the time they are planted until they have completely died down in early summer. Be sure to keep the soil constantly moist but not soggy as you don’t want the bulbs to rot.

Mulching the soil will keep their roots cool and protect the flowering plant from cold, drying winds, and conserve moisture.

Once you see the shoots poking out, give them a handful of Hadeco Bulb Food. Don’t forget to give them food once they’ve finished flowering. This will help the bulbs bulk up and create their flowers for their next season. 

If you’re going to be dividing your daffs, only do so once the foliage has died back. In the right conditions, and left to their own devices, they can bloom for up to 50 years, so don’t disturb them too much…

A large display of daffodils in a garden

Daffodils as cut flowers

When cutting for the vase, make them the star of the show. Keep them solo as the latex in their stems will leach out into the water and shorten the life of other flowers. They’re one of the few flowers that can survive without water once they’ve been cut, meaning they can be transported really easily. But not for too long as they will need to get into water as soon as possible.

Although the Daffodil or Narcissus may be a symbol of unrequited love – one just has to tell the story of how they got their name. Echo forlornly was unable to tell Narcissus of her love. Now we believe that if you give a bunch of daffodils to a loved one it means 'they're the only one' and guarantees happiness.

Daffodils on a coffee table in two glass vases
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