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.