Photo of Daffodil in bloom.

Is It Too Late to Plant Daffodils: 4 Tips Best Time to Plant!

Daffodils signal spring is here! They are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring and The Grow Monster always finds cheer walking through the neighborhood or driving past a roadside display of this stunning beauty. Many people question whether it is too late to plant Daffodils where they live, read on to learn more. Daffodils are very easy bulbs to plant and can grow for many years, bringing joy to any gardener. Whether you are just beginning or firmly planted in the world of gardening, daffodils can add just the right pop of color to your spring garden if planted at the correct time.

Although late summer to early fall is the most ideal time to plant daffodil bulbs, it is not too late to plant daffodils throughout fall and winter as long as the dry bulbs are planted in moist, yet well-draining soil 1-1.5 times as deep as the bulbs are wide.

  1. Wait until summer temperatures have dropped, but the ground is still workable.
  2. Choose a location with moist, yet well-draining soil.
  3. Use dry, firm bulbs.
  4. Plant Daffodil bulbs 1-1.5 times as deep as they are wide.
Early spring is it too late to plant Daffodils

Daffodils proclaim the arrival of spring; they add both a boldness and a delicate, charming touch to the landscape; they are adapted to open woodlands, meadows, and rocky declivities; they are charming in beds and borders and may be employed even in the lawn and the edges of pathways; they are most effective as pot plants for house decoration in soil, water, pebbles, or fiber; they have scarcely a peer as cut flowers when employed with their own leaves or almost any other greenery.

David Griffiths

Daffodils are a very versatile plant that anyone can grow and thrive pretty much anywhere, including indoors. David Griffiths, the early 20th century botanist observed the many splendors of Daffodils in his book entitled Daffodils for the USDA. I find this quote to be very notable about the versatility of the Daffodil. Read on to find out more about whether it is too late to plant Daffodils where you are located.

When Should You Plant Daffodils?

You should plant Daffodils at the end of summer or early fall, when the temperatures have just begun to drop. Te determine when temperatures will begin to drop where you live, check out the USDA plant hardiness zone map to locate your growing zone. Click here to access the map and input your zip code to find which month your temperatures will begin dropping. Daffodils need a period of time to grow roots before going in to dormancy. For some locations, this means you can plant as early as the end of August and some locations planting mid-December is not too late to plant Daffodils.

2020-11-24 14 56 14 Six Dutch Master Daffodil bulbs in the Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia

The Grow Monster has learned that Daffodils love moist, yet well-drained soil. Studies show that Daffodil bulbs that receive too much water begin to rot and will not last. Bulb rot is one of the most common causes of problems with Daffodil bulbs. If the soil is well-draining, the roots will be able to grow deep in to the ground- Daffodil roots will generally grow as deep as the plant is tall. For this reason, you want to avoid planting in heavy clay soils without first amending the soil appropriately.

To amend heavy clay soil, you want to dig down about 12 inches and fill in with compost. Make sure to work the compost in to the soil and not just placing it (especially manure) at the bottom of the hole or trench. This is because the roots of the plant can get burned if you place the bulb directly on a pile of manure or not fully composted soil. Once you’ve worked the compost in to the soil, you will be able to plant the Daffodils about 1-1.5 times deeper than they are wide.

What Happens if You Plant Daffodils Too Early?

In addition to wondering whether it is too late to plant Daffodils, you may wonder is it too early to plant Daffodils. Because Daffodils require a period of time to focus on growing their roots and then go dormant, you will need to make sure to plant them early enough that the ground is not frozen. But, not too early that the temperatures are too warm which could cause your Daffodils to be more susceptible to bulb rot.

Bulb rot occurs when the bulb gets too much moisture. In the case of Daffodils, The Grow Monster makes sure to plant the bulbs in a well-draining soil that will not allow any standing water. Experts say that high humidity outside also can contribute to bulb rot. If you plant the Daffodils too early, the hot outside temperatures in certain zones also may not allow the roots to get a good start. The soil may either be too wet, especially if you plant the Daffodils in a garden bed that gets watered more often; or the soil may be too dry due to outside heat.

If you take both soil moisture and hot weather in to account when planning to plant your Daffodils, you will be able to cut down the risk of bulb rot that can be very detrimental to your Daffodil flower bulbs. Remember that the bulbs do need a period of time before the ground is too hard to work and temperatures are too cold to be able to grow roots deep enough to support the plant when it blooms in the spring.

Daffodil in Early Spring blooming

Can You Plant Daffodils in Winter?

While it is ideal to plant Daffodils in late summer or fall, you can plant Daffodils in winter if you are considerate of the amount of time the bulbs need to form roots before going dormant. Depending on what your growing zone is and estimated first frost date, you can determine what part of winter might be too late to plant Daffodils in your area. If your ground has already hardened due to frost and lower temperatures, you may have missed your planting opportunity because the Daffodil bulbs will not be able to form roots.

In some places, you can plant Daffodils well into December and January because the soil is still workable and outside temperatures are not too low to prevent the bulb from growing roots. Remember, the roots need to grow and then the bulb becomes dormant until early spring when it start growing leaves, stem, and flower buds. If your ground has frozen and you can’t dig deep enough it may be too late to plant Daffodils; but you may be able to plant your Daffodils in pots and keep them in a location where they can grow roots and then transplant them as soon as the ground is workable again in spring.

If it was too late to plant Daffodils and you need to plant your bulbs in pots inside, one tip is to first soak them in rooting hormone to help get the roots growing. But, don’t leave the bulb in the water too long otherwise you may cause bulb rot. David Trinklein, the Division of Plant Sciences at University of Missouri- Columbia recommends about 24 hours soaking with the root growing hormone in his Daffodil guide. Once they have grown sufficient roots, you can then keep them at temperatures about 50-55 F (10-13 C) or plant them outside if the ground has become workable.

Daffodils blooming next to a brick walkway.

Can You Plant Daffodils in Spring?

Daffodils start blooming in early Spring, but is it too late to plant Daffodils in spring? You may be able to get away with planting Daffodils in spring if they have already formed roots whether you kept them in pots during winter or buy them at the store in spring. Most likely, however, it will be too late to plant Daffodils in spring because the bulbs will lack the roots necessary to anchor the plant for blooming.

If you have kept bulbs too long before planting or bought them too late, you might as well plant them because bulbs do not last in their dormant state forever. Eventually, they will succumb to root rot and become mushy or dry up all their energy stores and not be able to produce roots at all- a crumbly mess. Sometimes, if the bulbs were not able to create enough roots or able to go through their dormant period, they may still grow leaves but will not flower. This is called Daffodil “blindness” and means that the Daffodils are not flowering but may flower the next Spring.

In the daffodil garden. (21380803611)

Can You Plant Daffodils in Summer?

Although late summer through late fall is ideal for planting Daffodils, can you plant Daffodils in earlier summer months? It is not too late to plant Daffodils in summer, in fact late summer is the ideal time. You may have Daffodil bulbs left over from your spring planting or there may be a sale at the store. Depending on what growing zone you are located, it may be too early or too late to plant Daffodils due to the heat and dry soil conditions. During the summer months, high heat and high humidity can harm Daffodils that are newly planted because the bulbs do not yet have established roots.

In some climates, you may even need to dig up the Daffodil bulbs until it is time to replant them. Daffodils usually finish blooming sometime in the spring and this is the time that the bulb begins setting the flower for next year. After the leaves have fully shriveled, you can dig up the bulbs or transplant bulbs to other areas in your garden space. The key thing to keep in mind is that Daffodils need well-draining soil, the bulb cannot be planted anywhere it will sit in soggy soil. If you have other plants in the same garden bed that will need continual watering, it may not be a good idea to keep the bulbs there throughout the summer.

Daffodils planted in a cluster blooming in early spring.

Final Thoughts

If you have had your first frost and the ground is hard and unworkable or the soil is too wet, it may be too late to plant Daffodils. But, if you follow my 4 tips to wait until the temperatures drop and the ground has cooled, choose a location with moist yet well-draining soil, make sure your bulbs are firm and dry, and plant the Daffodil bulbs at a depth 1-1.5 times their width you will be growing these beautiful flowers in no time!

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Activities with Children

Children love digging and what better way to put that talent to use then have them help digging holes for Daffodil bulbs! If your children are still a little young you can always dig the hole for them and show them how to place the bulbs in the holes. Make sure the pointy top that the leaves and flower will grow out of is facing up and drop it in the hole.

Another idea you can do with your children is create a spring garden space where you plant Daffodil bulbs a few at a time and then see the area bloom for a longer time in the Spring as each later planting of bulbs flowers at different times. Or, alternate Daffodil and Tulip sections to create an interesting design. Read more about when to plant Tulips here.

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