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Daffodil Care

May 17, 2018

Home gardeners welcome daffodils as a sign of spring. However, they often have questions about how to manage foliage and bulbs after spring blooming. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists share information about daffodil care. To have additional questions answered, contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108

Is it necessary to deadhead daffodils?
Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers. While tulips should be deadheaded immediately after flowering, it is not necessary to deadhead daffodils. The vigor of tulip bulbs quickly declines if tulips are not promptly deadheaded and seed pods are allowed to develop. However, seed pod formation on daffodils has little impact on plant vigor. Some gardeners do deadhead daffodils for aesthetic reasons as the spent flowers/seed pods are not attractive.

Should I tie or braid the daffodil leaves after the daffodils are done blooming?
After flowering, daffodil foliage typically persists for four to six weeks. Daffodil foliage tends to get floppy and look a little unkempt. However, it’s best to leave the foliage alone and not tie or braid the leaves. Daffodil foliage manufactures food for the plant. Adequate amounts of food must be stored in the bulbs in order for the daffodils to bloom the following spring. Tying the leaves together with rubber bands or braiding the foliage reduces the leaf area exposed to sunlight. As a result, the leaves manufacture smaller amounts of food. In addition, tying or braiding the foliage is a time-consuming chore.

When can I remove daffodil foliage?
Daffodil foliage should not be removed until it has turned brown and died. The length of time it takes the foliage to die back depends on bulb type, weather and other factors. The foliage of daffodils usually doesn’t die back until late June or early July. The foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs is performing a vital function. It’s manufacturing food for the bulbs. Premature removal of the plant foliage reduces plant vigor and bulb size, resulting in fewer flowers next spring. After the foliage has turned brown, it can be safely cut off at ground level and discarded.

When can I move daffodil bulbs?
Daffodils can be dug up and replanted as soon as the foliage dies back (turns brown) in early summer. Daffodils can also be dug up and replanted in fall (October). If you would like to move daffodil bulbs in fall, mark the site when the foliage is present so the bulbs can be located in October. Daffodils perform best when planted in a well-drained soil in full sun.

Source: Iowa State University