Daffodils are gorgeous flowers; most of the time, they don’t take much maintenance. However, you may get worried if you’ve planted your bulbs and have not seen any growth. This concern is common for first-time daffodil growers and seasoned gardeners alike.
Your daffodils may not be coming up due to stress or inadequate conditions. Proper sunlight, watering, soil pH, and temperature are necessary for daffodils to blossom, but you can remedy this quickly. However, you may need to spend extra time fixing the problem if illnesses or pests are involved.
Below, I’ll discuss the seven most common reasons I see daffodils not coming up. I’ll go over the signs and symptoms of each case, and by discovering what has made yourf particular daffodils stay below ground, you can pivot your gardening habits to help them bloom!
Reasons Your Daffodils Aren’t Coming Up
Daffodils are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, so if you’re an avid gardener, you’re probably pulling your hair if your daffodils aren’t coming up. If it’s not a problem with the type of soil you’re planting them in, or they haven’t been planted too deep, there are a few reasons that might explain why your daffodil bulbs have yet to appear.
The most common reasons for your daffodils not coming up include the following likely culprits.
1. Your Daffodil Has Damaged Bulbs
Daffodil bulbs may spoil when you have not stored correctly or if pests or diseases have damaged them. The bulbs may have been old when you bought them, or perhaps you accidentally put them in a non-suitable spot when purchased.
If even one daffodil bulb starts to rot, it might spread to the other bulbs in the same bunch, so it’s essential to know if your daffodil bulbs are bad.
There are three main ways you can tell if your daffodil bulbs are bad:
- Visually inspect them for signs of rot or mold
- Check the roots for signs of decay or disease
- Mushiness or odd smell
If you want to make sure your bulbs stay fresh longer, store them in a cool place with good air circulation and away from direct sunlight.
2. Improperly Planted Daffodil Bulbs
Where you plant your daffodil bulbs and how far you spread them out are essential for blooming.
It may be a challenge to solve this issue—if it’s too late, it’s too late.
Digging up bulbs may cause more stress to the bulb, and even when appropriately replanted, they may not bloom (or they may be out of season by the time they do). The bulb will split in half or break apart into smaller pieces when you try to dig it up later.
If this happens, your plant won’t survive because its roots have been damaged beyond repair, meaning no more flowers! However, you can take note of the following next season.
If you don’t want your daffodils crowded together, try spacing them about 3-6 inches (7-15 cm) apart next season. This spacing ensures they aren’t competing for nutrients.
It would be best if you didn’t put them too deeply, either. They must only be about 7-8 inches (17-20 cm) below ground.
3. Not Enough Water (or Too Much Water) During Blooming Phase
Daffodil bulbs must always be kept moist, but they can rot and split if you give them too much water. This overwatering can cause mold and fungus to grow inside the bulb, harming future growth.
Overwatering can also lead to soil compaction, which presents particular complications. You can learn more about this problem in my article: How To Prevent Soil Compaction in Your Garden
If your daffodils are not coming up, it could be that the soil was compacted when you planted them. This compaction can additionally prevent root growth and make it difficult for the bulbs to emerge from their dormant state. However, you can loosen compacted soil by adding organic matter like compost or mulch.
Underwatering can be just as dangerous. Your daffodils won’t come up if they don’t get enough water. In the case of daffodils, they need a lot of water—so much so that they’re often considered “wetland” plants. Their native habitat is along wet banks of streams and lakes, where they can thrive in damp soil that doesn’t dry out completely.
4. Low or High Soil pH
Your daffodils may not get enough water or nutrients from their soil as they grow toward the sun. This problem can happen if there aren’t enough nutrients available within their immediate surroundings (for example, if you’ve recently used lots of fertilizer around your yard). A good indicator of whether or not your daffodils can get proper nutrients is their pH balance.
The pH determines how acidic or alkaline your soil is— a low pH means the soil is more acidic, while a high pH means it’s more alkaline. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.
The ideal pH for most plants is between 5.5 and 6.5, depending on your growing plant. If the pH of your soil is below 6.5, it can interfere with your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from the ground.
A lack of nutrients can cause stunted growth in your daffodils, which you may learn more about in my article: 5 Reasons Why Your Daffodils Are So Short
Similarly, if your soil has too high a pH (above 7), this can also interfere with nutrient absorption. Daffodils prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
5. Your Daffodil Bulbs Have Pests or Illnesses
Pests and diseases can harm your daffodils before they can flower, so look for signs of damage on the tops of plants in your garden or the soil’s surface. If there is any evidence of critters eating away at them, you can bet it’s affected your buried bulbs.
Daffodils are susceptible to several diseases, including:
- Powdery mildew
It could be the dreaded daffodil blindness if your plants come up with no blooms. However, you can usually treat these diseases with a bit of cleaning or specialized natural remedies. If you want to learn more about why daffodils come up bling, you can check out my other article: Why Do Daffodils Come Up Blind? 8 Common Reasons
Pests that feed on daffodil foliage include:
- White cabbage butterflies
- Cabbage moths
However, if none of your daffodils come up, it may be a different type of pests—squirrels and chipmunks are likely the culprits. These furry little pests are attracted to daffodil bulbs and are good at eating them or digging them up. If you have a garden with daffodils, there’s a good chance that squirrels and chipmunks are scurrying around trying to get to your colorful spring flowers.
If you want to keep your bulbs safe from these rodents, make sure that you plant them far away from their burrows (such as under trees). You may also cover them with a protective screen so they can’t dig up the bulbs.
An excellent tip is to try putting some chili flakes and cayenne pepper around the area where you planted your daffodils. Because of their pungent odor, these spices are supposed to repel animals like squirrels and chipmunks.
6. You Did Not Meet Your Daffodils Sunlight Requirements
Your daffodils might not be blooming because they are getting too little sunlight. Daffodils need at least 6 hours of sun a day to bloom, so if your plant receives less than that, it may not flower. Plants rely on sunlight to photosynthesize, and a lack of light results in a lack of growth—and even death.
7. Wrong Growing Season or Temperature for Your Daffodils
The temperature of your soil is a significant factor in whether or not your daffodils will come up. Daffodils are cool-season plants that you should always plant in the fall or early spring rather than the warmer days (depending on where you live), but fall is preferable.
Daffodils have spring-blooming bulbs, which is why most gardeners will say you should plant them in the fall. If you want them to flower sooner, you should get them in the ground as soon as you can get your hands on some bulbs—in February or March (the earlier, the better).
In cold regions, it’s best to dig up your daffodils after the first hard frost and store them over winter indoors or under shelter until replanting time arrives.
Because of their cold weather preference, bulb plants do best in certain hardiness zones, typically 3-7. If this doesn’t fit your climate, schedule your growing season accordingly.
Daffodils are beautiful flowers with a long history and are also one of the easiest plants to grow. They’re the kind of flower that you can plant in your garden, sit back, and enjoy without having to worry about much at all—but sometimes even daffodils don’t come up!
It can be hard to tell what’s wrong with the little guys, but if you know what signs to look for, it can be easy enough to fix them. Ensure that you monitor your daffodil growing environment—that way, you can eliminate the problem before it takes hold.