As the leaves change colors and temperatures drop, many of our conversations with family and friends center around food plots. Oh, no, not the patch of turnip greens or late lettuce you planted. The men in our family are talking about the clover in the “Olivia Field,” the acorn crop on “Mott Lane” or how the wheat is doing at the “Alabama Stand.” I am ahead of the game. I am dreaming about spring and finding something that deer do not like to munch on. It is time to plant some more daffodils!
Daffodils are a hardy and easy perennial that grow from a fall planted bulb. By late winter or early spring, the showy trumpet shaped central corona will emerge. Bulbs can be found now at your local garden centers. Carefully read the labels to find the ones that are best suited for the effect you wish to achieve.
There are at least 12 different divisions from the genus Narcissus. Some are better for mass planting. Some naturalize easily and can often be seen around old homeplaces. Some have one flower per stem, while others are multi-flowered. I like ones that have a light fragrance. Look for the ones that have double flowers. You are not limited to yellow daffodils. Today many cultivated varieties can be found.
Select a planting site in a sunny location, with fertile soil. Daffodils enjoy the early spring sunshine. Watch the area you are thinking of planting.
If you are planting a large area, you might want to loosen the soil with the tiller. If you are planting a few bulbs with your grandchildren, the spot can be worked with a shovel. Using your trowel, dig a hole about two times as deep as the bulb is high. Sprinkle a little bulb fertilizer in the bottom of the hole and work it into the soil. Groups of 10 bulbs of the same variety will create a sense of pop in the spring. Take about six or seven of the bulbs and plant in a circle. Plant the others in the centers. Pointy end up. Space the bulbs about three to six inches apart. Over the next few years, daughter bulbs will attach to the main bulb you are planting now and create larger clumps of daffodils.
A light watering will help settle the bulb into the ground. Mulch lightly and wait patiently.
Next spring after flowering apply a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer. Deadhead your plants as the flowers fade for a neater look in your garden. Remember you do not need to cut the foliage away. Through photosynthesis the leaves are feeding the bulb for next season’s growth. After it yellows, you may then wish to trim the leaves away. Your daffodil bulb is dormant and usually requires no additional care.
Former elementary teacher and avid gardener Olivia Sansing lives in the New Hope community and shares timely tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.