Daffodil Logo | Nantucket, MA

Planting & Caring for Daffodils

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by

Heidi Drew

Nantucket loves daffodils!  The deer do not eat them, the rabbits ignore them and they return every spring in greater numbers. The perfect island flower.

Daffodils come from bulbs and the bulbs are planted in the fall when the soil temperatures cool off into the 50’s.   November is ideal planting time here on Nantucket.  Or you can gamble and plant them 2 to 4 weeks before the ground freezes.  The bulbs need a minimum of twelve weeks of cool temperatures to set roots and properly bloom in the spring.  You may place orders for your bulbs in the spring and summer from the many bulb companies or purchase them in the fall at the local garden center.    Daffodils grow the best in areas with cooler winter temperatures.  They do not flourish in the deep south.    Where to plant?  Most daffodils prefer full sun and a well-drained soil that is kept moist during the spring.   Raised beds and the sides of hills are ideal.  We are fortunate to have the sandy, well-drained soil here on the island.  Bulbs do not like soggy damp soils, they are very susceptible to rotting and other diseases.   When planting your daffodil bulbs, dig the hole at least twice the height of the bulb and make sure to place the pointed end up in the hole.  Cover with soil and water well!   Space the bulbs at least 6 inches apart.  The bulbs will divide, create little bulbs that will need to be divided in three to five years.  The first year, the bulbs do not need fertilizer, but you can sprinkle a little low nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) on top of the soil.  Fertilize again after they bloom so they will have a strong start the following year.  Most important:  Do not cut, tie up, braid, cover up or mow down the daffodil foliage after blooming.  It is needed for at least 6 weeks after the blooms fade for the bulb to replenish by manufacturing food through photosynthesis.  Wait for the foliage to turn yellow before removing.  Premature cutting will decrease the blooming the following year.  You may remove the spent flower heads, so the bulb does not spend extra energy creating seeds. If you have a pot of daffodils, you can follow the guidance above, keep watering the plant until the foliage is yellow, remove the yellow foliage, allow the soil to dry out, remove the bulbs, keep in a cool, dry, dark place and plant them in your garden in November.

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