Daffodils, also called Narcissus, is a perennial bulb flower that is grown similar to tulips, and some can be highly fragrant and come in different colors. Daffodils flower early in the spring but should be planted in the fall.
The problem is that it’s not really intuitive to know how deep to plant daffodil bulbs. Before I started planting bulb flowers, my only experience with bulbs was with garlic, and let me tell you, planting garlic bulbs is not the same as planting daffodil bulbs. Daffodils should be planted much deeper.
As a rule of thumb, daffodil bulbs should be planted at least 2 to 3 times the width of the bulbs, but at a minimum of 3 inches, up to 6 inches. They can be planted individually, 3 to 6 inches apart, but can tolerate growing in groups of 5 to 10 daffodils around 2 to 3 inches apart.
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Daffodil Planting Depth
General recommendations for flower bulbs is to be planted at a depth of least 2 to 3 times the width of the bulb, and this is true for daffodils as well.
So, for example, large bulbs are around 2 inches in diameter, so you would plant them at least 4 to 6 inches deep. Small 1-inch bulbs can be planted 2 to 3 inches deep but planting deeper gives them more protection from harsh winters and ground-dwelling animals like voles. If you have any kind of frosts, I recommend a minimum of 3 inches. Some people plant their daffodils even deeper than 6 inches, but in most places I’d consider that overkill.
For extra protection, I’ll plant small daffodil bulbs around 4 inches deep, but still plant large ones 5 inches deep.
Pro-Tip: When you plant daffodil bulbs, you can add a small amount of fertilizer to the soil before burying them to promote better growth in the spring.
How Many Daffodil Bulbs Should I Plant Together?
Spacing of individual daffodils is typically 3 to 6 inches apart, but some people prefer to plant their daffodils in groups or “clumps”. I think daffodils look more natural in groups than planting them equally spaced in a bed, and daffodils can tolerate moderate crowding. Daffodil bulbs split over time and form their own clumps naturally.
There is no hard limit to how many daffodil bulbs should be planted together, but the minimum spacing recommended is the width of 2 bulbs apart (usually around 4 to 5 inches for large bulbs and 2 to 3 inches for small ones). Susan at Garden Rant plants her flower bulbs even closer, looking more like 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart and has had success with that.
My daffodils are a little farther apart than hers and I usually plant 5 to 10 daffodil bulbs per clump.
Best Locations to Plant Daffodils
Daffodils grow best in full sun, meaning at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. The more sun they get, the better. The reasons are two-fold: more sun means more growth and blooms, but more sun also means the soil will warm up faster in the spring, meaning you can get that spring flush of daffodil flowers sooner.
Generally, any place out in the open away from shade or near a south-facing wall/fence is the perfect location for daffodils. The next best locations will be along an east-facing or west-facing wall or fence where they can still get full sun for at least 6 hours. After that would be any location with partial sun, around 3 to 6 hours. The worst location for daffodils is against a north-facing wall or fence, or under full shade all day long.
Can You Plant Daffodils in the Spring?
The short answer is “no” but the long answer is “maybe”. Daffodils need a cold period of a few months in order to induce flowering in the spring, so even if you plant daffodils in the spring, you might get plants to grow, but you likely won’t get any flowers that year.
Plant daffodil bulbs in the fall for the best results, around 2 to 4 weeks before the ground freezes. In my area, this is mid October. For you it might be in September or November.
How to Store Daffodil Bulbs if You Can’t Plant Them Right Away
If you’ve received your daffodil bulbs early, you can store them by keeping them in a cool, relatively dry place, such as a root cellar, basement, or garage, with good airflow. If your bulbs get a little mold on them, it’s usually not a problem unless the bulbs turn soft.