Thinning Out Daffodils?

mariava7February 17, 2006

I have a bunch of wild daffodils growing in thick patches in my backyard. I was told that I should thin them out or spread them so they would do better. How do I do this? They are starting to sprout now, leaves and buds. Should I do that now or wait till they rest? I never gave them special care before because they just come back and bloom every year. Should I fertilize them and when? I would really appreciate any information and advice. Thanks in advance.

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mariava 7,

Definitely wait until the daffodils have flowered and the foliage has yellowed, at which point they have stored up energy for next year. Lifting them sooner will result in compromised bulb quality in the next year and most are likely not even to flower well or at all. After foliage has yellowed you should lift them, and then separate the bulblets (new bulbs that are attached to the original one - some may be quite large)and then replant them. Should work fine.

I don't think you need to concern yourself with digging up the clumps of daffodils that have grown from the bulbs you planted originally unless or until they've stopped producing the quantity and quality of flowers they are supposed to. If that happens, you can lift and divide them, and then replant them over a wider area. The larger bulbs and bulblets will flower nicely thereafter. In general, most daffodil varieties can take quite a bit of crowding until their flower production starts to decline. you've already planted need not be dug and spread around. Most varieties tend to spread out on their own as more and more bulblets are produced and reach maturity. Consider thought that not all varieties will perennialize, and many of the newer and fancier ones will dwindle out after one season.

Daffodils don't need much if any fertilizer. Some people add a little bone meal or bulb booster at planting time. Common wisdom says to stir a little into the bottom of each planting hole, but I think it's safer to work a recommended amout into the entire planting area. If you have to, you can just scratch some of it into the soil surface around the bulbs. Then, in the spring, when the bulbs start producing leaves, some people add blood meal or a liquid nitrogen formula to encourage growth. Bone meal is less effective at this time. But in my experience and according to some references I've seen, daffodils will do just fine without fertilizers as long as the soil is moderately rich and loamy. In general, the like it just a tad on the acid side of the pH scale because that helps them take up the nutrients that are already in the soil. If the soil is not too good - hard-packed clay, or alkaline, or tending to get very dry - working in some peat moss and/or humus into the bed is a very good idea.

Good luck! What kinds of daffodils are you growing?


    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 2:20PM
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cranebill, again.

Reread your post and realized you've got wild daffodils which you yourself had not planted. I wonder if they're really wild daffodils. They're dainty little beauties, and if've you've got them I consider you very lucky.

I thinking though that they might be cultivated, varieties "cultivated" meaning ones that are not wild but have been developed for larger flowers in a wider range of colors and forms. Many of these perennialize very well, and if someone else planted this type years before you found them, you have inherited them. I still consider you to be lucky.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 2:29PM
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Hi cranebill! Yes they are wild daffodils. They grow everywhere here in this side of the fields, along the highway. Mine are in my backyard along the creekside. They have smaller flowers than the "cultivated" ones but as I've said, they grow in bunches and when they bloom, they are a sight to behold. Thank you for your advice. I'll wait till after they bloom and rest before i split them up. My husband mows over them anyway.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 12:17PM
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