Naturalizing Bulbs – Planting Daffodils Like Mother Nature

By Bonnie Grant | October 12, 2018
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by Bonnie Grant
October 12, 2018

If you are a frugal individual, like me, you appreciate free things. Anything that beneficially multiplies itself is a good thing too. Take daffodils, for example. These cheery yellow flowers, some even with a lovely scent, are spring standouts and expand their presence by doubling (even tripling) in just a few years by naturalizing. If you aren’t familiar with naturalization, it is the process by which bulb plants grow and reproduce. Narcissus, or daffodils, propagate either from seed or bulbs. Learn more about the process at

When planting, you can encourage the effect by planting the daffodil bulbs in a naturalized way. Forget planting in an organized manner but, instead, dig trenches where you carelessly place bulbs in a random pattern. Some people gently toss the bulbs and dig where they land. Just remember to plant them pointy side up. This mimics how the plants would appear in the wild if left to their own devices and life cycle.

As the colony of bulbs ages and produces smaller bulbs, the flowers grow in a loose manner, producing thicker crops of plants and a broader scope of golden flowers. The effect is unarranged and without artifice. Just sweet, organically placed blooms in a cheerful tumble about the landscape. Some of the places that look the most uncontrived are around trees, dotted in lawns, sweeping across hillsides and any space in the garden that will lay fallow during bloom. It is important to provide a site with good drainage and rich soil for daffodil bulbs. They naturalize best in organic soil and actually thrive in the woodsy soils under and around the edges of tree lines.

If you want to start another daffodil site from the offsets the parent bulbs produce, wait until the foliage has died back to yellow. Then cut the foliage off and carefully lift the bulb. The little bulblets around the parent bulb should come off easily. These can be planted in fall in a prepared bed. Protect them from squirrels and other digging animals. Bulblets may produce flowers in a couple of years. If you are removing the bulbils on the stem for planting, expect a couple more years before they bloom. In spite of the extra time these types of Narcissus offsets will need to bloom, it is still less time than by seed.

When planting daffodils like Mother Nature, just remember to throw your sense of tidiness and order out the window and plant them in a spontaneous, whimsical manner for a beautiful, naturalized spring display.

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