Daffodils are one of the best low-effort, high-reward flowers you can have in your garden. Not only are they extremely beautiful and a good addition to any garden, but they’re also relatively easy to manage. For beginners, however, figuring out how to manage daffodil bulbs can be particularly difficult.
Daffodil bulbs multiply in the ground, which is one of the main ways they reproduce. Although you can manually separate bulbs to increase yields, daffodils will naturally produce “daughter” bulbs attached to the main “mother” bulb. With time, these daughter bulbs will grow into adult daffodils.
Taking proper care of your bulbs is important if you want a garden full of colorful daffodils. The rest of this article will teach you how to do just that, so keep reading if you’d like to learn more!
How Do Daffodil Bulbs Multiply In The Ground?
Daffodil bulbs multiply by forming daughter bulbs. These bulbs are the offspring of the original plant’s main (mother) bulb. Both mother and daughter bulbs remain attached to the main basal plate, so any daffodils that grow from them grow together, forming a cluster.
This makes daffodils an easy plant to keep as they’ll naturally reproduce and form a cluster. However, it’s important to understand that although they require minimal effort to take care of, you’ll still have to keep an eye on them.
For example, sometimes, the mother bulbs can have too many daughter bulbs attached. This problem causes “overcrowding” as they begin to compete for soil nutrients. Because of this, you’ll occasionally have to manually separate the daughter bulbs from the basal plate and replant them elsewhere.
How To Plant and Multiply Daffodil Bulbs
There are two ways that daffodil bulbs multiply —sexual and asexual. If you’re planning to plant some bulbs in your garden and want the best way to significantly increase your total yield, the best choice by far will be asexual reproduction through bulbs.
Choose A Daffodil With Good Traits
Before you can start handling the bulbs, the first thing you’ll want to do is give some thought to the type of daffodil you want to grow. Like humans, genetics are extremely important if you want your daffodil to do well from bulb to maturity.
There are two main ways to source your bulbs. The first is the DIY method, which I’d mostly recommend for people already familiar with caring for plants. But even if you’re new, you can still use this method.
The only downside to this is you’ll need to already have daffodils in your garden or a good place to get them. Once you have a good source, you can start to inspect the plants for favorable traits.
These are some of the best traits to look out for:
- Flower color
- Flower size
- Disease resistance
While you likely won’t be able to get a plant that has everything you need, having at least two or three favorable traits can be the key to getting a good spread of healthy daffodils.
The second method of getting bulbs is to source them directly from a supplier. Many local garden centers and horticulture shops keep a regular supply of different kinds of plants, bulbs, seeds, and anything else you might need.
The main advantage of this method is its cost-effectiveness. Since they’re usually sold in packs, you can get multiple bulbs at relatively affordable prices. However, rarer varieties and cultivars can cost a lot more. If you don’t have a local option to source bulbs, you can also go online to get a few.
Regardless of the supplier you choose, ensure you do proper research on them and their products to avoid getting defective bulbs.
Uproot the Daffodils
If you go the DIY route with your bulbs, the next thing to do is to uproot them. It’s important to be careful while doing this, so you might need something to clear out the dirt around the base of the flower with a shovel. Although uprooting the daffodil is a relatively easy task, uprooting them at the right time is essential.
Daffodil bulbs need to be planted before the winter, so they have time to grow roots before the cold sets in and they become dormant.
Because of this, the best time to plant them is usually early in the fall, before the surrounding temperature gets too cold. If you have a soil thermometer, try to plant the bulbs when the soil still maintains a temperature above 60°C (140°F).
Aside from accounting for the temperature, try to only remove bulbs from plants at the end of their flowering cycle. This usually happens about eight weeks after the flowers have died, and the leaves begin to pull back and turn yellow.
After uprooting the bulb, remember to clean off any dirt on it and ensure it’s dry enough to avoid mildew that can hinder its growth.
Remove and Divide The Bulbs
Now that you have your bulbs, you’ll need to separate the daughter bulbs from the mothers. Both daughter and mother bulb are joined together at the basal plate. This plate is where the bulbs are formed and is a type of modified stem. You can simply pull the bulbs apart to separate them.
If you’re not sure how to separate the bulbs, use a sharp knife to avoid damaging them. Also, while separating them, ensure that part of the basal plate remains attached to the daughter bulbs afterward.
Now that the bulbs are separated, you can either store them until you’re ready to plant or treat them to promote growth. Although they might grow just fine without the treatment, going the extra mile to treat them before planting gives them a better chance of reaching maturity.
Most methods of promoting growth usually involve damaging the bulb to mimic its natural growth cycle in the wild. It might seem counterintuitive, but trust me, it works!
Here are the easiest ways to promote growth in your bulbs:
- Score the bulbs with a sharp knife. Do not make the markings too deep. Some slight pressure with a very sharp knife will be fine.
- Place the bulb on a flat surface and cut it into 6-8 pieces. Each piece will grow into a new bulb, increasing your yield significantly.
Plant The Bulbs
The final step is to plant the bulbs. Here, the first thing to do is to pick the right bulbs. When choosing the bulbs you want to plant, ensure that you choose healthy bulbs. The most common sign of bulb damage is mushy insides from rot. This is usually caused by storing your bulbs in damp places or not cleaning them off properly when you uproot them.
A few other causes are:
It might seem like a needless step, but checking your bulbs to ensure they’re suitable before planting them will save you a lot of stress. Imagine waiting for months for a plant that was never going to grow in the first place!
Once you bring your bulbs out for planting, apply slight pressure to the sides with your hands. If they cave in easily, they’re no good. As long as you care for your bulbs and store them properly, this usually won’t be a problem.
Now that you’ve separated the healthy ones from the others, it’s time to plant! Although planting bulbs can seem strange if it’s your first time, it’s one of the easiest things to do.
Follow these steps to plant your bulbs:
- Choose a suitable planting site. Healthy, loose garden soil will be your best bet here. Also, you can mix in some compost at this point. The compost will improve the soil’s nutrients and make it more workable.
- Make 6-inch deep holes in the ground using a garden trowel. Avoid digging these holes too deep. Excessively deep holes can hinder the daffodil’s growth, stopping them from growing the beautiful blooms you want. These holes should be at least two to three times the size of the bulb you want to plant. Also, make sure they’re properly spaced to ensure that each plant will have enough nutrients to grow properly.
- Place the bulbs in the holes you’ve made, then cover the soil. Then, water the soil where you’ve planted your bulbs generously to encourage root growth.
- Provide aftercare for your bulbs periodically. Once planted, daffodils generally don’t require that much care. One exception is if you have particularly cold winters. Daffodils are hardy, but adding a little mulch or sawdust to the soil during cold weather will give them more protection. Remember that daffodils can take 5-7 years to completely grow, so patience is key!
How Do Daffodils Multiply?
Daffodils multiply through sexual and asexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is by far the best method to produce as many daffodils as possible. However, sexual reproduction requires a lot less effort, but you’ll have to depend on bees and other wildlife, which can give varying results.
For more information on caring for daffodils, you can also visit my guide here: How to Encourage Daffodils to Spread
Daffodils are particularly beautiful plants that are a welcome addition to any garden. They are pretty easy to grow, but the care you put into choosing and taking care of your bulbs before and after planting is extremely important. Follow all the steps in this guide, and you’ll have a wonderful garden full of daffodils soon!