Daffodil Obsession

I admit it. I love daffodils! What’s not to love? They begin blooming here in Northern California in late January; they punctuate an otherwise drab winter palette with masses of bright yellows and oranges; they thrive reliably year after year with little care; they require no extra water; they bloom for a month or more; they make great cutting flowers for indoor bouquets; they propagate endlessly (all by themselves); and gophers do not munch on the bulbs. I look with great anticipation for those first shoots to appear, wait for them to begin blooming, and cut basket loads of them for myself and friends. And I do NOT obsess over the daffodil foliage remaining after the blooms are spent. Someone once said to me, “You always have such beautiful daffodils. I have to plant new ones every year because mine never come up again.” Uh oh! Experienced gardeners know exactly why, right? She’s a total neatik; she obsesses over dying, browning leaves–she immediately cuts down all the daffodil foliage after they’ve stopped blooming. The leaves are the bulbs’ “food factories”; it’s where all the plant’s nutrition is. Without the leaves, the bulbs cannot sustain themselves nor make offsets and naturalize. Here’s what to do: bend the leaves over, tie them in a knot, braid them, plant ornamental grasses or other later blooming bulbs or perennials around them for camouflage, ignore them, but do NOT cut them down. By May, the foliage will be so shriveled and brown, you can easily pull it away from the bulbs, now quietly working beneath the soil to generate babies. And next year you will have at least double the number of daffodils. And the following year after that, you will have so many that you will need to divide and plant them elsewhere. It’s endless, it’s gratifying–and all this for a bag of 50 daffodil bulbs! No need to obsess. Just enjoy them and forget about the foliage.

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About writersandy

Writer, Gardener, Crafter
This entry was posted in Drought Tolerant Perennials, Gardening and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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