How to choose, buy and plant Daffodil bulbs to produce Daffodil flowers
Daffodils are generally propagated through bulbs or offsets. They are generally sold as single nosed or double nosed bulbs. The double nosed bulbs are actually two bulbs fused together.
An important factor determining whether or not flowering will occur is the size/weight of the Daffodil bulb. For Daffodils there is a minimum bulb weight required to ensure one flower per bulb is 10 gm. (approx). The Daffodil bulbs vary significantly in size among the various species and varieties. The bulb size suitable for Paperwhite Daffodils used for cut flower and pot plants is between 13-14 cm and 16 cm and above. The best results were obtained between the size of 15-16 cm and above in circumference. Bulbs chosen for planting must be free from any external injury and bruises.
Climate required to plant and grow Daffodil bulbs
Daffodils require a cool temperate climate. The optimum temperature for the flowering of these flowers is 17 degrees celsius to 20 degrees celsius. The major environmental factor affecting development is temperature. Low temperature is a requirement for successful flowering because they require forcing. But varieties like Narcissus tazetta and indoor flowering Paperwhite Daffodils do not require low temperature for successful growth and flowering.
Daffodils must be planted in rich sandy-loam or loamy soil with proper drainage. Soil should contain a minimum of 3% organic matter. The preferable pH range of soil is 5.5-7.0 for most forms of Daffodil Bulbocodium, Daffodil Triandrus, Daffodil Asturiensis and Daffodil Cyclamineus and requires alkaline pH 7.0-8.0 for Daffodil Jonquilla and Daffodil Tazetta. Soil selected for plantation should be clear of perennial weeds and free from stones and clods.
Planting Daffodil bulbs
If Daffodils are planted in pots then four or five double nosed bulbs can be planted in a 25 cm/ 10 inch pots. Similarly three double nosed or 4-5 single nosed bulbs can be planted in 22 cm / 9 inch pots. Potting mixture consist of equal parts of loamy soil, sand and well rotten farm yard manure (FYM). Never use fresh manure as a part of the medium. Daffodil bulbs should be treated with fungicides before planting. As a general rule the depth of planting the bulbs should be thrice the height. For example, the large bulbs should be planted at 6-8 inches, medium bulbs at 3-6 inches, and smaller bulb at 2-3 inches. If this method is not followed plant will bend down. The bulb should be pressed in firmly and the medium over and around the bulbs should also be pressed firm.
For pot plants miniature cultivars can be planted. The maximum desirable height in pots is 25-35 cm at the goose-neck stage. After planting, the pot should be kept outdoors for at least 12 weeks. When Daffodils are planted in beds, they are always grown as a 2-4 year crop. The short stemmed cultivars are generally planted about 10 cm apart while the tall stemmed varieties can be planted about 15 cm apart. After planting water the medium immediately to induce good root growth. Irrigation is required at regular interval during the active growth period from February –May.
Fertilization is required for good growth of Daffodil bulbs. Application of potash improves bulb growth. At the time of bed preparation, it is advisable to apply phosphorus and potash as a basal dressing, and nitrogen as a top- dressing.
Season and cycle for Daffodils
The best time of planting is November-December in the hills. It takes around 4-6 weeks to reach marketable stage (i.e. first floret fully coloured). Potted plants are marketed at slightly earlier stage then cut flowers i.e. before the flower opens. The rate of growth of bulb development is more rapid at the forcing season i.e. from March to June each year .The life span of a Daffodil bulb is about 4 years.
Growing period for Daffodils
The peak flowering time of Daffodil is February-March in the hills. Potted Daffodil plants kept in cooler area of home provide longer flowering and slightly longer stems. Outdoor grown flowers are picked and bunched in the field at the fat goose neck stage to preserve high quality and to avoid the flowers being damaged by wind and rain. It takes normally 6 months from flowering to harvesting of Daffodil bulbs.
Care of Daffodils
Daffodil needs moisture in early planting to initiate growth and require abundant water in the period of rapid growth up to and through flowering, until the leaves begins to yellow. Mulch will be very helpful for conserving moisture. After yellowing of leaves, little or no water will be required. When plants are in flower, removal of unhealthy plants, especially those with virus symptoms and of the wrong variety are practised. In wet climates, Daffodil flowers are damaged from Botrytis infection. Regular fungicidal spray is effective in extending leaf longevity and increasing yield. It has been found that competition between weed and crop affects the growth of plants, flowering and yield of bulbs (in terms of weights and grades).