‘Common’ mistakes to avoid to make sure daffodils flower ‘every year’

Daffodils are one of the most reliable spring-flowering bulbs, blooming year after year with the right care. They grow well in containers, borders and lawns, with a wide range of flower shapes, forms and sizes to choose from, to brighten up a garden throughout spring. While the blooms might not always appear or open up, there’s almost always something gardeners can do to help the plant survive into the next year. But in the event that all hope is lost for this season’s bulbs, gardeners will at least know how to prevent the problem from happening again next time.

Angela Slater, gardening expert at Hayes Garden World, has shared her top tips on how to avoid growing daffodils that “don’t flower” and how to correct this.

She said: “Daffodils which don’t flower, come up blind, still produce a lot of leaves and either no flowers or very few can be affected by several factors. Daffodils coming up blind is a common problem easily solved.”

Removing last year’s foliage too soon 

Gardeners who eagerly removed the daffodil foliage last year right after the final blossoms shrivelled can be a problem.

For about six weeks after the last bloom fades, the foliage works hard, absorbing energy from the sun and channelling it into the bulb for next year’s flowers.

Cutting this foliage before it begins to turn yellow and die back on its own prevents that crucial work from happening, resulting in a no-show the next year.

Angela said: “Cutting off the foliage after it has flowered prevents the plants from photosynthesising and flowering year after year; knotting leaves also has the same effect. 

“Leave the foliage until it has gone yellow, then you can remove it. If you have bulbs naturalised in grass make sure that you don’t mow until the leaves have yellowed.”

For those who don’t like staring at shrivelled daffodil leaves, they should plan their garden so that they’ve got new flowers blooming right as their daffodils are dying back.

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Not watering them enough

If these become “too dry” after they have flowered and before the leaves have yellowed and died back it can “impair bud formation” for the following year, according to the gardening pro. 

She said: “Just make sure that you keep them well watered from planting in autumn, when they start their growth period, until the leaves have gone yellow and died back.”

When it begins to turn yellow, gardeners can stop watering and cut the leaves back or mow them if they desire.

A lack of nutrients given

Sometimes bulbs won’t bloom if they haven’t been given an adequate amount of fertiliser. 

The soil can become “depleted of nutrients” by the bulbs being in the same place for years, this can affect the formation of the following year’s buds and bulbs. 

To remedy this, Angela recommended: “Feed with a slow release balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore, in the autumn then mulch with good quality peat-free compost or home-made garden compost. 

“Feed weekly with Tomorite after flowering, this aids the formation of buds for the following year and every year after.”

Too many bulbs planted in the same spot

Overcrowding leads to too many plants competing for too few nutrients and is usually seen in clumps left to naturalise in woodland or in the lawn. 

To avoid this gardeners should dig up in summer after the foliage has died back and split the clumps into individual bulbs and replant in the autumn, after improving the soil with some fresh compost and a feed of a balanced slow-release fertiliser. 

Clean the bulbs of soil and loose scales and store them over summer somewhere cool and dark, and away from mice.

Not removing spent flower heads 

Gardeners need to make sure that they take off the flower heads after they have gone over. 

Angela warned: “If the plant is allowed to run to seed, it puts its energy into producing seeds instead of building up the bulb and producing a new bud for the following year.” This will result in no flowers next year.

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