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How to grow daffodils

Collection of split cup daffodils

Daffodils are iconic spring-flowering bulbs that are easy to grow. Here are our top tips for the best new and traditional daffodil bulbs to try, along with advice on how and where to plant them. Here’s everything you need to know to grow gorgeous daffodils in containers, borders and lawns.

What are daffodils?

Single bright yellow Cornish daffodil
Daffodils are a cheery sight during spring
Image: Daffodil (Cornish) Bulbs – Rosemoor Gold from Suttons

Daffodils are perennial flowering bulbs, also known as narcissi. Hardy and frost tolerant, they’ve been grown for hundreds of years and come in a huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes.

There’s one native British daffodil which is often seen growing in wild drifts in parks and woodland. All other species originate from southern Europe or north Africa. 

How to plant daffodils

planting daffodils in soil
Make sure you plant your daffodils the correct way up
Image: Jurga Jot/Shutterstock

Choose a bright, sunny spot for your daffodils. Make sure the soil is fertile and well drained, and incorporate plenty of organic matter before you begin.

Plant your daffodil bulbs at a depth equivalent to roughly three times their own height. Make sure the pointed tip is facing upwards to allow the shoots to easily break through the soil surface in the spring. For the most powerful visual impact, be generous and group lots of bulbs together rather than spreading them out too thinly.

The best time to plant daffodil bulbs is September. They become available at the end of summer, and planting them between August and November gives them plenty of time to develop roots before spring. 

Best daffodils to grow in containers

Group of daffodils with dark orange centres
Try the new, highly scented ‘Jonquilla Martinette’ variety in containers
Image: Daffodil ‘Jonquilla Martinette’ from Suttons

Daffodils grow very well in containers too, and produce vibrant patio displays. Scented varieties work especially well near paths and seating areas, releasing wafts of fragrance every time you pass. Try classic ‘Paperwhites’ (Narcissus papyraceus) for their lovely scent and delicate, white, multi-headed flowers. 

Containers are a great way to really showcase new or unusual varieties like the brightly scented ‘Jonquilla Martinette’ or blush-coloured ‘Passionale’. Plant up a load of pots somewhere discreet and simply move them into prominent positions as soon as the shoots appear.

If you want to grow daffodils in decorative pots indoors, try dwarf varieties like ‘Topolino’ or ‘Rip Van Winkle. The even smaller miniature variety, ‘Minnow’, has glorious, yellow, scented flowers in buttermilk-coloured cups. If you want your indoor daffodil bulbs to flower early, during the winter, take a quick look at our guide to forcing indoor bulbs for more information. 

Best daffodils to grow in lawns

White daffodils with yellow centres
Create a show-stopping springtime display with daffodils
©Thompson & Morgan

Create a colourful swathe of spring flowers by burying daffodil bulbs under your lawn, and allowing them to naturalise. Native British daffodils are ideal for naturalising in woodland and grassy areas, and they’re popular with pollinators.

Choose a compact and delicate daffodil with scented, multi-headed blooms like ‘Cheerfulness’, or the bi-coloured ‘Sagana’, for areas of short grass. For longer grass and meadows, large-flowered daffodils with longer stems are better able to compete. Traditional trumpet varieties like ‘Trelawney Gold’ or large doubles like ‘Dick Wilden’ both look lovely swaying in tall grasses. 

We hope this has given you plenty of ideas on how to make the most of your daffodil bulbs! Check out all our growing guides for more tips and advice for growing flowers and vegetables. We’d love to see how you plant up your daffs, so why not share your spring displays with us via our Facebook or Twitter pages

Lead image: Daffodil Rainbow Butterflies Mixed Bulbs from Suttons

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