- Bernie Miller - Chester Heights Resident
Daffodils Rein Supreme Where the Deer Roam
As spring arrives we all look forward to seeing the bulbs that bloom in the spring. Some people panic when their bulbs are several inches tall and we get a late winter snow storm. Not to worry the spring bulbs are very hardy and they will survive. Heavy snow could ruin the flowers if they were open but the leaves and bulb will be okay.
Here is a big selling point to grow daffodils. Deer do not eat them because they are poisonous. Deer will eat everything around them that they like but will leave the leaves and blooms alone. There are other good traits to consider. The daffodil, depending on the variety, can bloom early in the season, midseason or late spring. You can mix varieties and have a sequence of blooms that will last several weeks. The bulbs can handle being planted in locations that tend to dry out in the heat of the summer and since they are dormant they are not fazed. They come in a variety of colors from the traditional yellow to white, pink and orange. Look beyond the local big box store to mail order companies for daffodils that are short, tall, double, frilled, and with a variety of cup sizes.
Bulbs are planted in the autumn anytime between August and November in our climate zone as long as the bulbs are in the ground long enough to grow roots when temperatures are in the 40 and 50s. The larger the bulb the bigger the flowers. There are some other short cuts or should we say ways to recycle bulbs. You may pick up bulbs in bloom either from the cancer society fundraiser or any store and they brighten your home. Once they finish blooming you should cut off the spent blooms and maintain watering. Make sure that if they are in a plastic sleeve for decorative purposes that you are not overwatering and the bulbs are swimming in pot. Place the pot outside in a shaded location for a couple of days so the leaves acclimate to the strong rays of the sun. Look around your gardens to decide on a location. Plant the bulbs at the same depth or slightly deeper in the ground. You can separate the bulbs if you want to spread them out and don’t worry if a leaf or two snap off as it will not impact the bulbs too much. The bulbs will slowly die and the plant goes into dormancy.
Common mistakes with daffodils are cutting the leaves off of the plant in the garden when they are finished blooming. Cutting the leaves off reduce the amount of food that is transferred to the bulb to allow the bulb to produce a bloom next spring. If done every year the bulbs will reduce in size and probably will not bloom. The other mistake is when cutting daffodil blooms and bringing them in the house for a bouquet the flower arranger mixes the daffodils with other flowers. As was stated earlier in the article, daffodils are poisonous and when placed in a vase with other flowers will reduce the vase life of the other flowers. Best if daffodils are in a vase by themselves.
A common question is “why don’t the daffodils bloom that we have had for many years”? They come up every year and there are plenty of leaves but no flowers. The reason is the bulbs have multiplied and they have used up most of the nutrients in that location. It would be good to dig and divide the bulbs and give them some room. Garden books will say to wait until the autumn to dig and divide. Will you remember where the bulbs are when there are no signs of them as the foliage has died already? After your other daffodils are done blooming take a shovel and dig up this clump of non- bloomers and divide and replant immediately. Make sure you amend the soil with compost and bone meal if you have it. Expect the leaves to die earlier than your other bulbs but be patient and look forward to the plants increasing in size the following year and probably will be blooming in year two after the transplant.
Wrapping up this conversation daffodils are just the pick-me-up that we all look forward to after long, cold winters. Enjoy the cheer they provide. Thumbs up to springtime!