Being a beginning gardener is all about getting results for your hard work. No one wants to put in hours of work and end up with a few straggling flowers or none at all. While gardening isn’t about immediate gratification, it is about being able to enjoy and appreciate your hard work at some point. With that said, most beginning gardeners often wonder which flowers are the easiest to grow. One flower that is easy to grow and is often associated with the advent of spring are daffodils. Daffodils are among the easiest flowers to grow because they are easy to plant, don’t require a lot of care, and daffodil bulbs are so hardy that they can continue to grow for many years.
Daffodils are native to Spain, Portugal and Morocco, but they are now grown all over the world. They are resistant to cold, and will grow pretty much everywhere in the U.S. except areas where there is no cold season because the cold season is necessary to start the bulb growing. Daffodils belong to the Narcissus family, and while I don’t know if they are in love with their own cheerful faces, daffodil blooms always make me smile. They are a symbol of hope, which is appropriate for springtime.
Daffodils must be planted in the fall, after the ground cools but before it freezes. They are sold in bulb form, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from. Some have blooms as large as 5-6 inches, while the miniature daffodils have smaller blooms, from about 1-3 inches. While most people think of yellow blooms when they think of daffodils, they actually come in a wide range of colors. However, my personal favorite is still the happy yellow ones that are the most common.
It is a good idea to start shopping for daffodil bulbs in April or May. There are many places to purchase daffodil bulbs, including local nurseries, online and through mail-order. Most flower companies will allow you to order your bulbs and then ship them to you in about September, depending on where you live, so that you can plant at the optimum time. By shopping early, you can reserve the daffodils you want and get the best selection. Daffodils are also affordable for the beginning gardener. Common variety bulbs average around several dollars, however, if you want to, you can spend much more. The cheaper bulbs have always worked for me.
The good news about daffodils is that they are not picky plants. Daffodils like sunny spots, and soil that is well drained for optimum growth. Other than that, you can pretty much put them anywhere. The only place they don’t do well is under evergreen trees. They look great in both formal and less formal gardens. You want to make sure that your soil is prepared before planting. Make sure that the soil is loose, and if it has some clay content, you might want to mix in some peat moss. A good low nitrogen fertilizer is also a good idea, however, you do not want to place the bulb directly on the fertilizer. Dig a hole that is appropriate for your bulb size. Most experts suggest that you should put the bulb in a hole that is three times the height of the bulb. Make sure that the pointy end is up; cover it with soil and water well. Some gardeners also swear by placing some kind of mulch over the bed after you have planted it.
It is also a good idea to plan your beds. Daffodils are spring flowers, and have blooms for usually at least six weeks, and often longer, depending on weather, care, etc. They also tend to be very tall plants, so you will want to place them in the back of your flowerbed unless you are using the miniature type of daffodil. You will want to plant some other flowers that bloom at different times so that your flowerbed is always ablaze with color. It is also best to plant daffodils in a drift. This means to plant the same kind of bulbs together instead of mixing varieties. If you are like me, you will forget where you planted what, so draw yourself a map so that when spring arrives, you know where you can plant annuals and not dig up bulbs by accident!
Since daffodil bulbs will split and spread, it is a good idea to dig up your bulbs every few years, separate them, and store them in your garage or other cool place in a paper sack until fall. It is very important to not cut the foliage or dig them up while the foliage is still green. Wait until it is completely yellow. The bulb is preparing for next season while the foliage is green, so you need to give your bulbs the time they need. If you take care of your daffodil bulbs, they can last for decades.
With a bit of planning ahead, even a beginning gardener can have a beautiful garden. By choosing flowers that are easy to grow and require a little maintenance, like daffodils, both beginning and experienced gardeners can enjoy the fruits of their labor.