Daffodils in April

Daffodils are a welcome sight after a long winter.  Harbingers of spring, they brighten gardens with their vibrant colors of white, yellow and green.

Daffodils, also know as narcissus, consist of two major parts to its flower. The ring of 6 flattish petals or tepals adjacent to the stalk is collectively called the perianth. Attached to it, projecting forward around the stamens and pistil, is another petal group called the corona, which is also know as the cup, crown, or trumpet.

Blooming times of the various narcissus vary by region and with the type of weather. You can find daffodils appearing from late March or early April (the cyclaminius) all the way through late April (fragrant jonquilla.)

Growing daffodils is easy. They tolerate a wide range of soils and do well in light shading and can be incorporated into any garden space. They do best in fertile, humusy, well–drained locations which are moist or even wet in spring and are moist to dry in summer.  They don’t generally do well in dry sites or near highly competitive trees or shrubs with shallow root systems. For best results, fertilize annually after blossoming to promote a strong bud for the following year and use a dressing of bonemeal or a balanced, low-nitrogen fertilizer.  Avoid use of fresh manure as it can create disease problems.

Retain all the foliage until it withers. The bulb needs the leaves to produce the elements for the next season of flowering.  Any grassy areas set with narcissus should be left un-mowed infected narcissus (daffodil)until early July. To disguise the fading leaves in borders, plant later-blooming perennials with spreading foliage nearby.

Narcissus bulbs occasionally get infected by the Narcissus fly larva which burrows through the bulb to cause rot. Discard the bulbs immediately if they show signs of mushiness caused by fly larva or other infections such as Fusarium.

Daffodil bulbsAll narcissus resent drying out, and because they have only a short resting period, install new groupings as early as you can find them in the nurseries, sometime around early fall. Divide overcrowded clumps means by separating right after flowering so you can find them. Retain all the leaves when transplanting and reset quickly since they still need to produce a large volume of roots for good flowering next season. Keep well watered until the foliage is gone. Fertilize transplants with diluted liquid rather than granular types to avoid scorching the disturbed roots.

Resources used in this article: Gardening with Perennials Month by Month by Joseph Hudak