homepage logo

Garden Help Desk: Correct care after blooming assures beautiful daffodils next year

By Staff | Apr 20, 2024
1 / 5
Once daffodil blooms begin to look faded or ragged, they should be deadheaded.
2 / 5
Deadheading daffodils not only conserves energy for bigger and better bulbs and blooms the next year, it also improves the appearance of the plants, an important consideration for plantings in public view.
3 / 5
When deadheading is delayed, spring-blooming bulbs will divert energy to seed development instead of bulbs. The swollen area at the base of this daffodil that should have been deadheaded holds maturing seeds.
4 / 5
Daffodils aren't the only spring-flowering bulbs that benefit from deadheading once the blooms begin to fade. Tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs also need deadheading before they set seed.
5 / 5
Raised beds can be made from a variety of materials in a variety of widths and lengths, but gardeners should always consider ease of plant care when constructing raised beds.

My daffodils were beautiful this year. Now that they’re 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?

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, 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 few potential problems with growing vegetables in the same place where your daffodils are planted. First, all parts of the daffodil plant are toxic to people and pets, especially the bulb. If there is any chance the bulbs will be mistaken for onions and eaten, it’s best to keep the vegetables and daffodils in different area.

The second problem with growing your veggies in that area is you’d be digging and transplanting where your bulbs are. The bulbs could be damaged if the digging is too close. 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 No. 3 is that some kinds of daffodils can be allelopathic, inhibiting the germination or growth of sensitive plants.

A fourth problem is the different watering needs of your dormant bulbs and your actively growing veggies and flowers.

What is the best size for raised garden beds?

Raised garden beds can be built from a variety of materials, from cedar or redwood to cinderblocks and composite materials. The dimensions of the materials you use will influence the dimensions of your raised beds.

Raised beds can also make vegetable gardening easier for several reasons:

  • Raised beds usually have better drainage.
  • The soil in a raised garden bed will warm more quickly in the spring.
  • You can build your raised beds tall enough to reduce bending.
  • With raised beds, you only need amend the soil in the beds, not in the entire garden area.
  • You’re less likely to walk in a raised bed, so you can avoid soil compaction problems.

The dimensions for your raised bed will depend on your budget and the space you have in a sunny part of your landscape. Try to limit the width of your beds to about 4 feet. That width will let the average gardener reach just a bit beyond the middle of the garden. If you make your raised garden bed wider than that, you may have trouble planting, thinning and weeding the middle of the bed.

You can make your raised bed as deep as you want, but keep in mind that raised beds less than 6 inches deep won’t give you all the advantages I’ve mentioned and may not provide easy rooting depth for larger vegetable plants like tomatoes and squash. Eight- to 12-inch-deep beds will give you all the benefits, but you can build them deeper if you need taller beds for easier gardening.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)