Daffodils for Fall Planting

By Neil Moran

          It’s hard to believe Summer is drawing to a close. Folks around the Bay area and beyond may be starting to think about planting Spring bulbs. When I think of these bulbs I immediately envision the daffodil, perhaps because it was my mother’s favorite Spring flower. She had a nice bunch of pale white- and yoke-colored daffodils growing against the house where she could see them from where she was hanging the clothes.

Daffodils are one of the hardiest of Spring bulbs. They’re also resistant to deer and rabbits. They come in more varieties and color variations than on a painter’s palette. Once established, this beauty will bloom for many years to come. Daffodils are fairly disease-resistant and require very little fussing beyond the normal fertilizing, mulching and weeding.

Daffodils come in an impressive array of elegant colors, including white, yellow, peach and golden yellow.  Scout the different garden and specialty bulb catalogs that arrive in your mailbox and order anytime in early Fall to ensure availability.

Daffodils are technically narcissus and are sometimes referred to as jonquils, which are actually a specific type of daffodil.

Planting Instructions for Daffodil Bulbs 

When to plant: Plant in Fall after the ground has cooled, a few weeks before the ground freezes.

Location: Full or nearly full sun is best.

Where to plant: Plant daffodils in well-drained soil in rock gardens, borders of flower gardens and near entryways to a home. Amend the soil (especially clay soils) with well-rotted compost or livestock manure.

Planting depth: Daffodils should be planted twice as deep as their length from end to end, i.e., a two-inch bulb should be planted four inches deep (from the top of the bulb’s pointed end).

Spacing: Follow the spacing directions for the individual variety you’ve ordered.

Proplugger pointer:  For easy planting of daffodils, use the Proplugger 5-IN-1. You won’t have to bend over to plant if you don’t want to. Simply use the metal rings provided to set the plugger to the depth you wish to plant, then push the Proplugger into the ground with your foot. Pull up on the tool to remove a plug of soil. Tap the tool to release the plug next to the hole you’ve created.  If desired, you can drop the bulb through the top of the tool. The bulb will slide down and into the hole.

Daffodil bulbs should be planted with the bulb tip pointing upward, but this is not critical because the bulb will right itself and grow upward. Fill in the hole with the soil you removed with the 5 in 1. Firm the soil over the bulb with your foot.

Feeding: Daffodils don’t like high-nitrogen fertilizers, so feed with a 5-10-10 fertilizer when the leaf tips emerge. About the time of flowering, top dress with a 0-0-10 or 0-0-50.

Popular daffodil varieties: Jetfire (zone 4-8), Sentinel (zone 3-8), Thalia (zone 4-8), Quail (zone 5-9), and Sorbet (zone 4-8).

Hardiness Zone: Daffodils are hardy to zone 3.

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