In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
September, 2003
Regional Report

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1162

Each bulb contains the whole monte: flower, stem, leaves, energy reserves -- all in one package.

Welcome to Bulb Land

When I mailed my daffodil bulb order last spring I was rhapsodizing poetically about how there can never be too many cheerful daffodils after a long dark winter. I was not thinking of having to plant them now, one by one, with pickax and shovel.

It's worth the planting effort: some serious digging to loosen the soil down deep to encourage rooting (a mark on my shovel gauges a ten inch depth). Then I place each bulb pointy end up and 6 inches deep, backfill, then water to settle the soil unless a soaking rain is in the forecast.

Preparing the Show
I prefer informal daffodil plantings. In small gardens, cluster five or seven bulbs, all of one kind, for a delightful spring show. The average yard easily handles an informal drift of twenty or so. In my rural setting, a hundred of one variety in a patch with a lazy fluid outline is but a small start. Hence my yearning for thousands more.

High quality Bulbs Mean High Quality Flowers
The order arrived this week, and the bulbs are big and heavy for their size, plump and firm with no signs of mold or battering in transit. Bulbs are graded by size and weight, with number one being the best. When possible, I like to plant number one grade, double-nose, top-size bulbs. High quality bulbs really do bloom the best right from the beginning.

Each bulb already contains the whole daffodil plant for next spring, including the stems, flowers, leaves, and roots, plus energy reserves. So I am storing them carefully until I get them planted. They hold best in a cool location with good air circulation -- never keep them in a plastic bag. Once nights are in the forties and the soil cools down, I'll start planting. They should be in the ground at least six weeks before the soil freezes.

The Best Location
Site your daffodils in full sun or part shade and in well drained soil. They are easy to grow. Enjoy the flowers and then allow the foliage to slowly turn brown and wither naturally. That process rebuilds the bulbs so they can bloom again the following spring.

Once planted, daffodils bulbs are usually left in place for years. Eventually they multiply and become crowded and consequently bloom less. Then you can dig and separate them and replant, gradually expanding your plantings. When your plot is filled to capacity, expand throughout your neighborhood, then onward to carpet the countryside and faraway lands ... one bulb at a time.


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