How to Store Daffodil Bulbs

Plants & Flowers
Stored Daffodil Bulbs

Daffodils are among the most beautiful signs of spring. The only downside is that their blooms last for a short while. However, it's possible to make your daffodils bloom in the next year if you take a bit of care.

Many gardeners choose to leave daffodil bulbs in the ground for the whole year, while others opt to bring them up and safely store them until the planting season in the fall. If you do the storing you can plant the bulbs in another part of your garden when the time comes.

Tips for Storing Daffodil Bulbs

Here are some handy tips for saving daffodil bulbs for the next year:

Before you remove a bulb, make sure that the blossom and the leaves have faded on their own. Don't cut them unless they are completely withered. It usually takes about six weeks for that to happen. It's important to wait until the leaves are faded completely because even scraggly leaves can collect the sun's energy through photosynthesis and thus, it's valuable for the plant. This energy is actually pumped into the bulb so it can grown next year. If you really want to cut the spent flowers early, you may do that but make sure to leave the stem completely intact.

When the flower and the foliage have faded completely, cut them out. It's important to cut at the soil line. In case you want to leave bulbs in the soil, this is all you have to do. Don't worry about regular garden waterings or winter rains: they can't bring the bulbs up before the spring. The bulbs will grow only when they're ready. This is all you need to do if you decide to leave the bulbs in the ground: they will start growing the next year and produce more flowers.

If you want to bring the bulbs inside, after cutting the withered flower and leaves, dig deep into the soil several inches away from the bulb. Make sure to dig around the bulb but not to close to it or you might damage it. When the bulb is free from soil, bring it up carefully by using a clean spade full of soil and the bulb. Handle the bulb very gently. Any mistreatment or damage can cause a bulb to rot.

Before storing daffodil bulbs, make sure to clean them off by removing the excess soil. It's best to use your fingers: a tool might damage the bulb. In case there are bulbs clumped together make sure to clean them with extra care. Chances are that such bulbs will separate on their own as you clean off the soil. In case there are bulbs firmly attached to each other, lave them be. When cleaning the bulbs, make sure to clean all of the "caked on" moist soil collected on the bulbs.

Once the bulbs are completely clean, inspect them carefully. You should search for any signs of deterioration, rot or damage. You should keep only completely healthy bulbs and discard the rest.

Before you store the bulbs, you should set them aside in the open air for about an hour. This is done to remove every last bit of the soil. The open air will make the remaining soil dry so you can remove it with ease. You can use a brush, rag or a towel to remove the last bits of the remaining soil.

Take a well-ventilated bag and place the bulbs in it. Make sure to place them loosely - don't pack the bag with bulbs! You may also use an improvised bag such as the leg cut from a pair of pantyhose or nylon stockings. Alternatively, you may use a mesh onion bag. A good candidate for a storage bag is an inexpensive tulle from a fabric store. No matter what kind of a bag you use, make sure to close up the opening with twine or string and leave enough excess to form a loop for hanging. Alternatively, you may rest the bulbs without a bag. Place them on an old window screen set on two boxes of sawhorses so the air can freely flow underneath.

Hang the bag filled with bulbs in an area away from direct sunlight, heat or dampness. A good place for the bag are far corners of the garage (away from the door). However, avoid places near the laundry appliances or water heaters. The best spots are shady areas with good air circulation.

Let the bulbs cure. In case you're using a bag and it's hung indoors, leave them alone till the autumn. This is when you'll take them and plant them in your garden. In case you use a window screen or if you leave the bulbs outside, bring them in and put them in a paper bag for storage in a dark, cool and well-ventilated spot to cure.

The autumn is the best time to replant the bulbs in the ground. Before you do it, inspect them again for any signs of disease or pests, such as rot or mildew. Discard all bulbs that don't appear healthy. Plant the healthy bulbs in the garden and they will happily bloom in the spring.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips for those who wish to grow daffodils:

  • Growing daffodil bulbs is easy. It's a great activity for children and beginner gardeners.
  • The soil in which you plant the bulbs should be moist but not wet. Healthy soil is one of the most important factors for growing gorgeous daffodils.
  • Daffodils prefer filtered or low sunlight. It's therefore best to plant the bulbs around the base of a tree.
  • If you have to lift the bulbs during flowering (or shortly afterwards), you much proceed with caution. Place them in a reserve bed and make sure to keep it moist so the foliage can mature. This will allow the bulbs to build up the food reserves needed for the next year's flowers.
  • You may also grow daffodils in pots. They do well in containers so they are easy to grow. If you wish to use pots, make sure to plant your daffodils in potting soil and not garden soil. It's best to line a large basket or a wicker laundry basked with inexpensive burlap and fill it with potting soil. Plant the bulbs in the basket. For the best effect, you may also plant a few lobelia. This will make a gorgeous container bouquet.

Photo credit: Karen Blakeman

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