Daffodils can be grown in any of the cooler parts of Australia.
They require a cold, wet winter and a cool summer if they are to do well.
Most parts of Tasmania, the mountain areas of Victoria, hill areas behind
Perth, WA and cooler parts of ACT/NSW are suitable for these delightful
spring flowering bulbs. They will not tolerate the warmer, humid regions
of Australia's north.
The TDC recommends that you purchase exhibition
bulbs from specialist growers, listed below. Large quantities for garden
plantings or naturalised areas under deciduous trees are also available
at reasonable prices.
Standard size daffodils should feel hard and heavy in your hand when you
purchase them. Throw away any bulb that feels soft or squishy.
Generally, bulbs are on sale during the
summer/early autumn months.
It is best to plant them in March/April when the soil begins to cool down.
Daffodils are not over fussy about soil type and prefer a PH level around
neutral. Very light soils can be improved with additions of organic material
to improve water retention. Clay soils should be broken up to ensure good
Bulbs should be planted deeply (nose upwards) 3 times the height of the
bulb in lighter soils and about twice the height of the bulb in clay soils.
If planting in garden beds, dig a trench to the required depth, cover
the base with a thin layer of sand and "screw" the bulb into
the ground. The sand helps keep away bugs and basal rot. Cover the bulbs
and add a layer of mulch (straw or pine bark).
Daffodils do not require a lot of fertiliser.
The flower is formed at the end of the season and held in embryo within
the bulb. Too much nitrogen will simply lead to excess leaf growth. A
good sprinkle of sulphate of potash, however, is beneficial at planting
time and you may choose to add some complete fertiliser after the leaves
nose through and again after flowering. Daffodil beds can be mulched with
organic fertiliser as well as straw but NEVER dig into the soil manures
(such as sheep or mushroom) close to the actual bulbs.
Daffodils need good rainfall from late
autumn to spring. The size of the flower is determined by firstly, its
genetic makeup and then by the amount of water it receives. Once daffodil
leaves are through the ground it is almost impossible to over water the
bulbs. If rainfall is light, you should water the bulbs deeply once a
This is the time when the embryo flower
bud forms for next year. Therefore, allow the leaves of all daffodils
to die off naturally. Do not cut them even though they look a bit unsightly.
Once the foliage has completely died off you can dig the bulbs if you
This is only necessary if bulbs have become overcrowded and need dividing
or if you wish to move them to another location.
Do not water bulbs in summer. If they are placed in a bed with other plants
and shrubs, they will survive with some watering providing drainage is
Generally, a clump of bulbs will last many years in the one place if the
growing conditions are good.
If holding bulbs in storage, clean them, check for any signs of rot around
the root area (basal rot) or other damage and dispose of these. Hang bulbs
in net bags in a dry, airy, dark place until planting time.
1. Your bulbs failed to grow.
The bulbs may have been in poor condition when you purchased them but
most likely, they have rotted. A hot, wet spell in summer may cause bulbs
to "steam" just like onions.
A certain percentage of all daffodil bulbs do seem to disappear over time.
2. Your bulbs made lots of foliage but failed to flower.
This may be due to planting in a too shady an area, planting too close
to the surface (which causes bulbs to split rather than grow larger) or
the bulbs are overcrowded (lift, divide and replant)
3. The flower on a new bulb appears distorted.
Suppliers often heat treat bulbs for sale to ensure healthy bulbs. However,
sometimes the heat affects the flower bud causing it to appear distorted.
This is not a lasting effect – the flower should appear quite normally
4. "I planted a group of different bulbs but now they are all the
Within any group of bulbs, some will be more vigorous than others will.
Over time, the more vigorous bulbs grow, split and produce many more bulbs
than their weaker neighbours produce. Eventually the weaker bulbs are
squeezed out and only the vigorous varieties remain.
Vigorous bulbs that may well "take over" include (Tazettas)
Erlicheer and Paper White.
Dwarf and Miniature Daffodils
A number of suppliers sell smaller daffodil
varieties suitable for rock gardens or pot culture, for example, Jetfire
and Tete a Tete.
Note: If you want miniature bulbs for exhibition it is wise to order from
a specialist supplier as many commercial companies advertise miniature
when they should refer to dwarf. (A miniature flower must measure 50mm
or less in diameter.)
Clumps of small daffodils look very attractive in a rock garden planted
in small pockets of soil between other alpine plants.
N.bulbocodium (hoop petticoat) and its hybrids do well in rockeries. These
small bulbs enjoy baking out in summer and like the heat generated by
rocks or gravel paths. They flower very early in the winter/spring season
and are a welcome addition to the winter garden.
Miniature bulbs are best grown in pots as they are likely to quickly disappear
in a general garden bed. Due to their small size, they are more susceptible
to rot if conditions are very wet but will also desiccate if allowed to
totally dry out for any length of time. Do not hang these tiny bulbs as
you would standard bulbs. Plant in pots immediately after purchase. Keep
slightly moist in cool conditions (under shade) in summer and place in
an open position when temperatures cool in late autumn.
Reproduction by seed
Standard daffodils normally reproduce
by bulb division, some increasing by as much as 600% in a season. They
can also be grown from seed but standard daffodils may take about seven
years to flower. In the meantime, seedlings need to be kept weed free
either in special beds or in polystyrene boxes.
Miniature varieties, on the other hand, are less likely to multiply by
bulb division – they reproduce by seed in the wild and are easy
to grow from seed in the home garden. Allow seed pods to develop and drop
naturally in the rock garden or in wide pots and they may reward you with
a natural increase. Seedpods can be collected when they "rattle"
in late spring and the seed sown in a well drained potting mix, in boxes.
(Seed is planted fresh at the beginning of summer, kept cool and dry until
it is placed out to catch the rain in autumn). Seedlings will appear like
blades of grass in the first year, growing two leaves in the second year
and often flowering in the third year.