When it comes to getting the most out of your daffodils each and every spring, what you do after they finish blooming in late spring can make a huge difference in just how vibrant and plentiful their blooms are next year!
Daffodils are one of the most popular spring flowering bulbs of all. In fact, they trail only the tulip as the most oft-planted bulb in the fall for spring color.
It’s easy to see why they are so in demand. Not only are they easy to plant and maintain, they are wonderful for brightening up the landscape with some of the first flowering color of the year.
With flowering varieties that can range from yellow and white to pink and orange, they can be quite the sight for sore eyes after a long, stark, dreary winter season.
But although daffodils are easy to plant and fairly maintenance free, a little bit of late spring care can pay huge dividends when it comes to the following year’s performance. Especially when you are talking about producing bigger, brighter and even more beautiful blooms!
Caring For Daffodils After They Bloom
There are four main aspects to spring daffodil care, and they are as follows:
- Foliage Care
- Dividing Overgrown Bulbs
Of the four, the first three (deadheading, foliage care and fertilizing) should take place every year. These three tasks play the biggest role of all when it comes to powering the following year’s bloom set.
Splitting and dividing overgrown bulbs on the other hand only needs to occur every four to six years. We will cover more on the when and why of dividing, but let’s take a look first at the three simple annual chores that can really set your daffodils up for big success next year.
Deadheading Fading Blooms – What To Do With Daffodils After They Bloom
Bulbous plants store most of their power for blooming well in advance of when they actually bloom. For spring blooming bulbs like daffodils, that means power must be built and stored the previous growing season.
Much as with annuals and perennial flowers, the dying and decaying blooms of daffodils continue to use resources from the plant as long as the flowers remain on the stem. Resources that instead should be helping to save and store power for next year’s bloom cycle.
By simply removing old blooms as they begin to fail, you help power up next year’s flowers. Instead of wasting energy trying to heal failing flowers, the bulbs save the energy for future use.
Foliage Care – What To Do With Daffodils After They Bloom
As important as it is to remove fading blooms to help conserve bulb power, it is equally important to NOT remove failing foliage too early.
Once daffodils start to near the end of their blooming cycle, their foliage will begin to brown and fade. Many gardeners at this point feel the need to cut the plant to the ground to clean up and clear their beds. Unfortunately, cutting the foliage back early will severely impact next year’s blooms.
As the foliage of a daffodil slowly fades, it feeds the bulbs below. Through the process of photosynthesis, the leaves capture the sun’s rays and convert it to energy. Energy that is then stored in the bulbs below to help propel the following season’s growth and bloom cycle.
By removing the foliage too early, the photosynthesis process stops. The result are weaker bulbs that have less energy to bloom next spring.
For best results, resist the urge to spring clean daffodil beds. Allow all of the top growth to completely die off first, and then simply cut the foliage to the ground.
Fertilizing Care – What To Do With Daffodils After They Bloom
There is a lot of debate on when and how to fertilize daffodils. The main question comes down to should you fertilize in late fall, or very early spring? Although either time can be effective, early spring is generally considered the more optimum time to provide your daffodils with a bit of extra energy.
As the first shoots of daffodils appear through the top of the soil, apply a well-balanced granular bulb fertilizer to the soil surface. This will provide a boost of nutrients to the bulbs just as they begin to set their blooms.
For best results, use a fertilizer that is somewhere in the 3-5-3 to 5-5-10 Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium (NPK) range. These lower amounts are exactly the range bulbs need most, supplying needed energy, but without overpowering them. Product Link : Espoma Bulb Food
If you do opt to fertilize in the fall, apply the fertilizer late in the season. Again, use a well-balanced granular bulb fertilizer. Fertilize late, when plants can no longer grow. Fertilizing too early in the fall or in late summer can promote late season growth that can leave the bulbs susceptible to winter damage.
Dividing Overgrown Plants – What To Do With Daffodils After They Bloom
One of the best attributes to daffodils is that they truly are one of the lowest-maintenance plants around. Unlike many other bulbs, they can remain in the ground over winter, all without the worry of freezing out in most climates.
Adding to their allure, they also do not require division as frequently as other bulbs. In fact, most daffodils can go a minimum of three to five years without the need to divide. As slow bulb growers, some can even go as many as ten years or more without any issue at all!
In general, dividing bulbs needs to occur when the either the foliage becomes too dense, or the bloom sets begin to decrease in intensity.
Dividing should take place in the early fall. Dig around the edges of the plant carefully to keep from nicking or damaging any of the bulbs. Next, lay the bulbs out where the sun can help to dry them out for a week or two.
Once the bulbs are dry they will be easy to separate. All that remains is to plant them in the ground in the fall and wait for even more glorious flowers next spring!
For more on fall bulb planting tips, check out “How To Plant Fall Bulbs For Big Spring Color” on the website. Here is to getting the most our of your daffodils this year, and for years to come!
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