QUESTION: I have a lot of daffodils that shoot up nice and green, but some varieties don’t bloom as well as they once did. What do they need? Some of these have not been in the ground very long.
We’re coming into prime-time for daffodils. The early varieties have bloomed and sailed gracefully through Middle Tennessee’s March cold snap. Of course you’d like to continue to enjoy as many blooms as you can.
The web site of the American Daffodil Society has a long list of reason daffodils may not bloom. See if any of these conditions may affect your flowers:
Too much shade: Daffodils should be planted in an area that gets at least a half-day of full sun, or more, if they are planted in partial sun.
Crowded conditions: After bulbs have been growing in the same place for many years, they may need to be dug up and divided. They divide themselves every year or two, and the clumps of bulbs compete for food and space. They respond by ceasing to bloom. After the foliage turns yellow later this spring, dig the bulbs, separate them, and replant them about 6 inches apart, 6 inches deep.
Fighting for food: Bulbs that are planted under evergreen trees or with other fast-growing plants may be competing against those plants for the available nutrients in the soil – and losing. The result would be weak plants and no flowers.
Impatient gardener: If you were too quick to cut down the foliage the previous year, the bulbs may not have had time to replenish themselves enough to flower. The ADS explains that daffodils replenish their bulb for about six weeks after they bloom, and the leaves should not be cut off or tied up (which blocks the sun) until they turn yellow.
In general, daffodils need well-drained, slightly acidic soil in a sunny location, and plenty of water while they are growing. They benefit from a top-dressing of 0-10-10 or 0-0-50 fertilizer, but avoid high nitrogen fertilizer, which promotes foliage growth at the expense of blooms. The right growing conditions result in a beautiful, daffodil-filled spring.
Get back out in the garden! The gardening season is back, which means the return of the monthly Landscape & Garden Calendar in The Tennessean. Check it out here.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
March 14:Nashville’s annual Arbor Day event will be held in Centennial Park. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. Memorial trees will be planted to honor several Nashville citizens, and Metro 5th graders will read their winning “My Favorite Tree” Essay Contest entries.
March 16: Backyard Sustainable Gardening workshops sponsored by Hands On Nashville and led by Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture. Day-long mini-course introduces the theory behind permaculture and offers hands-on training. Learn the basics of permaculture. Workshops will take place at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm, 361 Wimpole Drive. Learn more and register here.
March 23 – 24: Middle Tennessee Daffodil Society’s Spring Daffodil Show is at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall in Massey Auditorium. Daffodil entries are accepted between 8 and 10 a.m. March 23, and the show is open to the public 1:30 – 4:30 on March 23, and 11:30 – 4 on March 24. Learn more about the Daffodil Society here.
April 6: Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee Plant Sale, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the TennesseeState Fairgrounds in the Sports Arena Building. This is the largest perennial plant sale in Tennessee, and offers hundreds of varieties including natives, grasses, groundcovers, small shrubs and select annuals along with the perennial favorites. For details, visit the PPS web site.
April 20: Herb Society of Nashville Herb Sale, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Sports Arena Building. Hard-to-find varieties of annual and perennial herbs, shopping assistance, The Compost Man. New this year: a square-foot gardening display, and handmade pottery by Roy Overcast. Admission is free; $5 parking fee at the Fairgrounds. Visit the Herb Society of Nashville’s web site to learn more, and on Facebook at The Herb Society of Nashville.