Daffodils are one of the most popular spring bulbs due to their stunning golden colors and trumpet-like shape. Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, this unique flower is the perfect representation of a new season. Daffodil care is fairly simple and once you have these beautiful blooms in your garden, you’ll never want to go without them.
Below we’ll cover proper daffodil care, including sun, water, temperature and other care needs. We’ve also included different types of daffodils and some frequently asked care questions to help guide you along the way.
Daffodils are one of the first signs that spring has arrived, so it makes sense that they’re the official birth flower for the month of March. These bright blooms are native to northern Europe and are grown in temperate climates around the world. They are also the official flower of Wales and are traditionally worn on St David’s Day (March 1st) as this tends to be the time of year daffodils start to appear.
There are between 13,000–25,000 variations of the daffodil, but the most popular ones are the Trumpet varieties. These types of daffodils are distinguished by a fused corona that is noticeably longer than the petals (like a trumpet). If the corona is shorter than the petals, it’s called a cup. Two varieties of daffodils are known as large-cupped and small-cupped, depending on the size compared to the petals.
Daffodils are typically classified as perennial flowers that bloom in the spring, growing about 1 to 1.5 feet high. Daffodils prefer full sunlight and well-drained soil, and do well in temperatures between 60°F-70°F.
Types of Daffodils
There are 13 main types of daffodils that are commonly grown in gardens, but approximately 13,000-25,000 different cultivars within each division. The most common varieties include:
The Trumpet daffodil boasts a center cup at least as long as its petals, with one bloom per stem.
This daffodil varietal features clustered cups and petals, with one or more blooms per stem.
Also known as Angel’s Tears, this variety has a hanging bell shape and at least two flowers per stem.
Additional Daffodil Varieties
Large-cupped: The cup on this specific daffodil is more than one-third the length of the petals with one bloom per stem.
Small-cupped: The cup is no more than one-third the length of the petals, with one bloom per stem.
Cyclamineus: This daffodil is unique in that it features swept-back petals and one bloom per stem.
Jonquilla: This daffodil is known for its fragrant flowers with flat petals that appear in clusters of one to three blooms per stem.
Tazetta: If you come across a daffodil with at least 4 flowers per stem (and sometimes even 20!), you’re looking at a Tazetta. The leaves and stem are also broader than usual.
Poeticus: Large white petals with a small brightly colored corona define the Poeticus daffodil. This fragrant flower generally has one bloom per stem.
Bulbocodium: This type of daffodil has a very large trumpet with small petals.
Split-cupped: The cup on this varietal is split open, usually at least halfway.
Miscellaneous: These do not fit into other categories, including inter-division hybrids.
How to Care for Daffodils
If you’re new to gardening, you’re in luck! Daffodils are low-maintenance flowers that are perfect for both beginners and experts. Follow these basic steps and you’ll have some beautiful spring flowers growing in your garden in no time.
Place your daffodils in a spot that gets full sunlight and leave the plant out for at least 6 hours a day. When summer comes around, be sure to keep your daffodils away from the base of a wall or fence to avoid overheating.
Be sure to water your daffodils regularly (about once a week), especially in spring and autumn. Keep checking the soil regularly and water when it feels dry to the touch. If you live in an area with no snow during winter, your daffodils will need to be watered frequently then, too.
Daffodils typically don’t need any added humidity and thrive in hardiness zones 3–9 in 60°F-70°F. Having a cold period (35°F-45°F) where the plant can set roots is important, however certain types of daffodils, like the tazetta and jonquilla, can do well in warmer climates.
When growing daffodils, be sure to keep the bulb and the flower away from animals such as dogs, cats and horses. These yellow flowers are toxic and your pet can fall ill. They can even get sick from vase water that once held daffodils (so keep those vases away)! You’ll also want to keep freshly cut daffodils away from other flower varieties for at least 24 hours as they produce a milky sap that can potentially kill the plants.
Pests & Problems
Pests: Many daffodils fall victim to a variety of insects, including the bulb fly, bulb mite, aphid and thrips. All of these bugs feed on daffodil bulbs, which can result in a withered and rotting plant. To avoid this, plant your bulbs deep in the ground (at least 10 inches) and in an open area exposed to wind, which keeps the insects away.
Problems: The most common disease found in daffodils is basal rot, which occurs when a plant experiences stunted growth and its roots begin to brown. If your bulbs begin growing white or pink fungus, that is a clear sign that your plant has basal rot. To control basal rot and keep it away from your daffodils, be sure to follow proper planting techniques and use disease-free bulbs.
Repotting & Propagation
Repotting: Once the leaves turn yellow (about 6 weeks), they are done for the season. When this happens, dig up the bulbs and store them away in a paper bag in a cool, dark place. During fall (around September to late November depending on where you live), take out the bulbs and plant them directly in the garden, about 8 inches deep in moist soil.
Propagation: When the bulbs are almost touching in the ground, that’s your sign to dig them up and replant them. Keep digging and replacing them when they get large enough — keep in mind that it takes two to five years to see the first daffodil bloom.
Taking care of daffodils is great for everyone, but there are still a few tips you should keep in mind before diving in. Check out our quick answers to frequently asked questions about daffodils and feel free to print off these plant care printables to help keep up with your daffodil care routine.
How Do You Cut Back Daffodils After They Bloom?
Be careful not to cut back daffodils too soon after blooming, as that can severely impact the way they flower the following year. It’s very likely that your daffodils won’t bloom at all if you cut early, so keep this in mind when the time comes. Instead, you’ll want to trim off the stem from each plant once the bloom dies off.
Why Aren’t My Daffodil Bulbs Blooming?
If you’ve noticed that your daffodil bulbs haven’t bloomed yet, that likely means the plants didn’t store enough food in the previous year. Dead foliage makes it harder for the plant to store the proper amount of nutrients because it inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb and obtain an adequate amount of sunlight. To avoid this, be sure to cut off fully dead foliage so the plant can store an adequate amount of food in the bulbs.
Do Daffodils Need Sun or Shade?
Daffodils need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day in a bright spot. If your plant is in partial shade, the chance of it blooming is slim but depends on the amount of sunlight it’s getting.
Daffodil Bouquet Care Tips
Not only do daffodils make a wonderful addition to any garden, but they also make for gorgeous spring bouquets! Below are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your bouquet, whether it’s a gift to a friend or a centerpiece for your table.
1. Place in Warm Water
Once you cut your daffodils from the garden, you’ll want to immediately place them in a bucket of warm water and let them sit in a cool place for 2-3 hours to let the stems harden. Since daffodils contain toxins within their stems, be sure to keep the flowers away from other varieties so as not to kill the other plants.
2. Cut the Stems
When the daffodils are ready to be placed in the vase, recut each stem so they last longer. Be sure to cut the stems under warm water and at a slight angle to prevent air bubbles and allow the flowers to absorb water quickly.
3. Arrange the Flowers
Fill the vase of your choice with warm water and flower food, and begin arranging your daffodils. Keep in mind that these spring blooms contain milky sap that can poison other flowers, so if you want to mix them with other varieties you have two options: wait 24 hours to create a mixed bouquet or place the daffodils in a smaller container within the vase.
If you’re someone who’s just getting started in the gardening world, planting these beautiful spring blooms may be the perfect starting point for you. Follow the simple daffodil care steps we outlined above and you’ll be a gardening expert in no time! To find out more about daffodils and their meaning, check out our post on the March birth flower.