Discover the secret to daffodil success

Discover the secret to daffodil success

A host of golden daffodils will be in bloom this spring in gardens nationwide, celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth whose most famous poem, “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”, is also known as “Daffodils”.

It’s the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, who celebrated daffodils in poetry.
It’s the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth, who celebrated daffodils in poetry.

Across the Irish Sea, RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire has planted 22,000 bulbs, a golden mile of narcissi, while more than 70,000 daffodils will be on display throughout the garden.

Daffodil specialist Ron Scamp offers the following tips on how to plant daffodils and get the best show of blooms.

So what’s the secret of daffodil success?

Daffodil Bulbs

Make sure bulbs feel firm to the touch. “The most important thing is that your bulbs are sound and of good quality. Make sure the bulbs are firm,” says Ron.

Discover the secret to daffodil success

You can go to many places to see bulbs, in supermarket and garden centres. Just give the bulb a little squeeze. If it feels firm and looks healthy, that should be fine.

“If you are buying from an unknown source and you don’t know what the bulb’s going to look like, you are relying on the reputation of your supplier.”

How to plant

Plant with at least four inches of soil on top of the bulb, says Scamp. “Bear in mind that soil will settle, and if you plant too shallow, the bulb will split up too quickly and the bulbs will be too small to initiate a flower,” he adds. “That’s just one of the reasons bulbs go blind.

“If you plant at four-six inches deep, the bulb will settle and grow and multiply naturally.”

What soil?

What sort of soil is ideal? “Daffodils will grow in almost any soil, but ideally something slightly alkaline is good,” says Ron. “They grow in all sorts of conditions, from very dry and arid places to mountain alpine pastures.”

Ideally, the soil should be free-draining.

“If you have a heavy clay soil, add a bit of grit to the bottom of the hole,” adds Scamp. “Bulbs don’t want to sit in water. If you are growing them in containers, add a bit of grit to the mix to maintain free drainage.”

Plant the bulbs from September and before the end of October.”

Discover the secret to daffodil success

After flowering

How long should you leave them after flowering before tidying up? “Leave them for at least eight weeks,” says Ron.

Don’t cut leaves off until eight weeks after flowering, which is the time to harvest your bulbs if you are going to lift and divide them.

He adds: “Don’t tie them up. If you tie them in a knot you are just cutting off the sap and the growth within the leaf. It’s like having your throat cut. This year’s leaf is next year’s flower because all the goodness in the leaf has to go back into the bulb.”

Straggly leaves

How do you disguise straggly leaves? “You could plant the bulbs in among other herbaceous plants and small shrubs, then you can hide them,” says Scamp.

“If you have them growing in grass, by the time June comes along, the grass is getting a bit lanky.”

Favourite flowers

As for Ron Scamp’s favourites? “I love some of the top show flowers we have like ‘Cape Cornwall’ and ‘Centenary Gold’,” he says.

Ron Scamp (left) and Adrian Scamp with their daffodils at the RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2014     Pic: Bethany Clarke.
Ron Scamp (left) and Adrian Scamp with their daffodils at the RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2014 Pic: Bethany Clarke.

“I have a soft spot for the historics, the old-fashioned daffodils which have been around for a hundred years, like ‘White Lady’, ‘Elegance’ and ‘Amabilis’.”

Containing them

Which types should you choose for containers?

If you have big pots outside, any sort of daffodil is fine, but if you have a nine-inch pot or a small bowl, I’d go for dwarf types like the cyclamineus hybrids and apondanthus hybrids. Many miniatures are superb.

Which are best for scent?

“Not all daffodils are scented, but most scented ones come into the poeticus, jonquilla and tazetta sub-species. Some are multi-headed and some tazettas can have up to 20 flowers on a stem.

“Tazettas are invariably very tall,” says Ron. “The bulbs are like cricket balls and the flowers are on long stems, growing to around 24 inches. They look best in the back of the border.”

More on this topic

Gardening: Time to take stockGardening: Time to take stock

Your guide to Munster gardening eventsYour guide to Munster gardening events

Leap at the chance: floriography and adoring statementsLeap at the chance: floriography and adoring statements

How to grow your own mindfulness comfort zoneHow to grow your own mindfulness comfort zone

More in this Section

Virus response writes a new chapter for Books UpstairsVirus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

Ireland's DIYers causing problems for doctors during covid19 crisisIreland's DIYers causing problems for doctors during covid19 crisis

Damien Enright: Coping with confinement by coronavirus in the CanariesDamien Enright: Coping with confinement by coronavirus in the Canaries

Richard Collins: Glimmer of hope for the dwindling hedgehogRichard Collins: Glimmer of hope for the dwindling hedgehog


Latest Showbiz

Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman feature in the lot.Collection charting DC Comics’ eight-decade history goes on sale

The singer told fans that ‘there will be an album this year’.Sam Smith to change title of upcoming album To Die For

James McAvoy is the latest famous figure to make a contribution.Covid-19: Angelina Jolie, Rihanna and Taylor Swift among stars donating money

He shared an inspiring message to those struggling during the coronavirus crisis.Drake shares first photos of son Adonis with emotional tribute

More From The Irish Examiner