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What to do with daffodils after they finish blooming?

Updated October 25, 2018

Daffodils need the right treatment after flowers have faded to help them bloom well next year. Daffodil leaves convert the sun's energy, then bulbs store it. Bulbs with lots of stored energy produce better blooms. Once flowering's over, gardeners should remove old flowers, apply fertiliser, allow leaves to die down naturally and lift and divide congested plant clumps.

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Deadheading

Daffodils set seed after blooms die. Seed heads grow below withered petals at the base of the flower. Plants use energy to grow seeds, so removing dead flowers, or deadheading, allows plants to store more energy in bulbs. Gardeners should pinch or prune away daffodil flowers once petals are dry, making sure to remove the swelling seed head. Flower stalks can remain, as they work like leaves to process the sun's energy.

Feeding

Applying fertiliser after flowering helps feed daffodil bulbs. Tomato fertiliser, or another high potassium liquid feed, is ideal. Once flowers have died, water in fertiliser at plant roots every one or two weeks until foliage starts to turn yellow. Spraying leaves with a foliar feed also helps bulbs build up strength for flowering next year. Daffodils in containers especially need feeding as plants exhaust nutrients in container compost.

Leaves

Daffodil leaves die down naturally, turning yellow and thin. Gardeners used to tie leaves in knots after flowering to make them tidy, but this restricts them and reduces next year's blooms. Daffodil leaves need access to sunlight and also enough time to store energy in bulbs. Allow plants at least six weeks before cutting back leaves, or ideally let them die back completely. In dry weather, plants wither from lack of moisture, so water plants to help them complete their growing cycle.

Lifting

After several years growing in the same place, daffodils form large clumps, become congested and stop flowering. Bulbs need separating and replanting apart where they won't compete for light, water or nutrients. Mark the place of a non-flowering clump with a short stake, then, once leaves have died down, dig it up. Split the bulbs and replant singly at at least three times their own depth to ensure beautiful blooms next year.

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About the Author

A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.

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