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Garden Help Desk: What do you do with daffodils once they’ve bloomed?

By Garden Help Desk usu Extension - | Apr 22, 2018
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Daffodils in bloom.

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Daffodils need deadheading. 

Question: My first time planting daffodils in Orem was successful! I have two dozen spectacular bloomers. Some are spent now and need to be picked. But when they are all past blooming, what do I do with the plants? Trim leaves down, leave bulbs in ground or remove for next year to use the space for other flowers? Or do I have a choice here? We will be growing tomatoes behind them in the same bed so if bulbs are left in, there would be no toxicity, right?

Thank you so much. Your advice helped me get my bulbs planted successfully last fall!

Answer: You don’t want to leave the flowers on the plants because the flowers will be trying to set seed, which uses a lot of plant energy. You want that energy to go to the bulbs instead.

When the flowers on your daffodils fade, cut off the flowers, but leave the flower stems and leaves for a few weeks. All the green parts of the plants will still be producing energy for the bulbs and that energy will be used for next spring’s cheery display. Once the leaves have yellowed quite a bit, you can cut them back to the ground. This is true for all spring-flowering bulbs.

Most home gardeners in our area just leave their bulbs in the ground year-round, unless the plants have become too crowded. If you need to move the bulbs for some reason, wait for the tops to die back and then carefully dig up the bulbs.

Dig several inches away from the bulbs to avoid damaging them.

Let them air cure for at least a week if you aren’t going to replant them right away.

The bulbs should be replanted in the fall.

If you can’t wait for the tops to die back and you need to move the bulbs:

Dig the bulbs and set them aside in a place with good air circulation where they’ll be out of direct sun and protected from rain and irrigation

Let the tops dry out on their own instead of cutting them back while they are green.

Store the bulbs In mesh or paper bags in a cool, dry place and don’t forget to replant them in the fall.

There are a couple of potential problems with growing vegetables in the same place. First, all parts of the daffodil plant are toxic to people and pets, especially the bulb. You don’t want to grow your tomatoes near your daffodils if there is any chance that the bulbs might be mistaken for onions and accidentally eaten.

The second problem with growing your veggies in that area is that you’d be digging and transplanting where your bulbs are. The bulbs could be damaged. If you don’t have any other place to plant your tomatoes, you could take out the bulbs at tomato-planting time and then replant them in early October.

Problem number three is that some kinds of daffodils produce a compound in the soil that can inhibit the growth of sensitive plants. We haven’t seen a comprehensive list of plants that are sensitive to narciclasine, so I can’t tell you what might happen with your tomatoes, but it’s probably worth trying.

Would you like to get better results in your garden?

Come join us at USU Extension for a free gardening class: Dig In! Basic Vegetable Gardening on at 6 p.m. April 25, Utah County Administration Bldg., 100 East Center, Provo.

Advance registration is preferred, but not required: (801) 851-8479.

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