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it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

Posted by Need2SeeGreen 21-23/or 10/SoCal (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 17, 13 at 21:53

What happened was, I was going to pop them in the fridge but then there was a surprise rainfall and now they are all sprouting a tiny bit.

That means I can't chill them now, right? That would upset them?

Just as background: these bulbs have sent up leaves every year for years but never a flower, I don't even think the first year. I never got around to researching that, but I finally did and now I see that since it is hot here, I do need to chill them. (I had thought daffs didn't need that.)

I should just divide and replant them now, and wait until next year to chill, right? And hope they flower?

Thanks for your help! I did a search but apparently no one else was silly enough to have this happen.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

My daffs I bought over 20 years ago, have been divided and moved around, and have never been chilled. The only time they have not bloomed was when they did not get enough sun. They do very well on the winter rain, and have never had any fertilizer. They are the plain King Alfred available everywhere. Some farmers around here plant them along the fence line next to the highway, for a really nice spring color. Al

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

  • Posted by socalgal USDA z10 Sunset z24, (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 10:58

It's not good to dig them up for dividing or chilling if they've already started growing roots. I would guess that if they've sprouted they also have roots, but you might gently dig one up to check. On the other hand, if you have plenty and they're not blooming anyway, it couldn't hurt to dig up a few and try chilling even if they have roots. There are some daffodils that bloom and naturalize in warm zones, Ice Follies is one of them. I've had it for years and it blooms every year with no attention from me.

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

Thanks, folks!!!

I dimly remember that these were probably Cheerfulness, and I don't remember which color.

I think they do all have at least some roots, but I'll check again. They do usually live mostly in shade, because it gets so hot on my patio that I assumed most plants wouldn't like the sizzle. And I assumed the strong reflected glare would be enough, but lack of sun may be the culprit. (Though they still should have bloomed the first year, I'd think.)

Maybe I'll chill a couple, and move a couple, and see what happens. I would love to get some flowers...

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

If they are Cheerfulness: they prefer a deep and even heavy soil that holds cool and damp over the summer. They also tend to 'dig deep' with their bulbs and the bulbs grow to a fair size. They are well-insulated against above ground temperatures by this depth.
Agree with calistoga - no chilling required.

They quite like the occasional topdressing of old compost with some added blood and bone, or bone-dust (If you don't have wandering creatures such as dogs) and the clumps can stay undivided for years, unlike some others.

They usually start into root growth in late summer, though they won't show above ground for a while to come.

The leaves are usually a dark green, rather than the blue-green of many of the other types, and they last for much longer (probably until your May-June) but are usually gone before the worst heat of summer.

Can you give them a half day of sun - preferably morning?

If your spring season tends be be short and you're into full summer fury before the leaves have gone you could give them a touch of shade by moving a container to cast shade or using a sun sail, or similar.

It would be worth the experiment to see how well they actually can cope with summer temps while they're still in leaf before you provide protection.

The other thing you could try is to feed them with tomato food while they're in full leaf as the extra potash might be what they need to set the coming season's flower buds deep in the bulb.

And check your soil's pH level. They are tolerant of fairly acidic soil but may appreciate a touch of lime.

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

Okay, I will try to feed them this year and see that they get more sun.

We do have hard water, so maybe that is part of this too somehow.

Thanks for the help!

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

Well. I was all set to dig them out and chill them on time this year but ... some of them sprouted already again!!! Zounds. I had put them aside after the leaves dried, but I think they were accidentally in the drainage zone of another plant, and sucked up the water from the ground, and rooted. Ooooops.

But some others didn't get wet and those are going in the fridge. I sure hope I get some flowers this year.

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

Cheerfulness is a Tazetta type daffodil/jonquil and as such it hails from places with a Mediterranean type climate where it blooms in late Winter and early spring. It doesn't need any chilling. Vetivert gave excellent and comprehensive advice last year which emphasised that point.

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

When do they get sun? I have them under maple trees but the leaves are not out until after the flowers die back. They live in dense shade for the rest of the year. I wonder if you may have too much shade that prevents them from blooming.

Excessive nitrogen may promote green growth over flower growth. There is a nutrient that promotes color and bloom but I forget what it is.

RE: it's too late to chill if my daffs are growing, right?

Well, the thing is, they've had plenty of sun, so I don't think that could be the problem. And I fertilized this year too, so maybe that will make the difference.

When I looked online, it said these bulbs weren't suited for my zone, which is 10. That's why I am cooling them. if it's a mistake, at least it's not all of them! It will be an interesting test. And even though a map says I'm zone 10, it really gets quite quite hot on my balcony, so it might be more like a desert than a Med climate.

But I appreciate all the advice! I'm going to get a bloom out of these little fellers one of these days...

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