Daffodil Society of Minnesota

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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


Topic 1 — No Flowers — Just Leaves

  • My daffodils did not bloom this spring but I have lots of leaves.
    What's wrong?
    1. Your bulbs may be planted in an area that does not get enough full sun in early Spring. They may get too much shade by your house or evergreens. Daffodils will thrive under deciduous trees which normally don't leaf out until June. Avoid the dense surface roots of maple, dogwood and beech trees. Mark and move them this July (see #3 below).
    2. Your bulbs may not have gotten enough water last Autumn to form enough roots to support both leaves and flower buds. Daffodils will abort their flower bud if survival is hanging in the balance. Mark your calendar to water your bulb beds throughout September and October and November, until our ground freezes solid. Then mulch to keep the ground frozen until Spring really arrives.
    3. Your bulbs may need to be dug and divided if they are over-crowded. Mark your overgrown clump with golf tees or plastic spoons so your shovel won't slice through bulbs. Wait until six weeks have gone by after other daffodils have stopped blooming. Mid-July to mid-August is the ideal time to dig and divide daffodils in Minnesota.

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Topic 2 — Nothing came up!

  • Bulbs I planted last fall did not come up. Why?
    1. You may have planted a variety that is not hardy in Minnesota. See Minnesota Varieties List.
    2. You may have planted your bulbs upside down. The pointy end goes up and the flat side, possibly with a few dead roots attached, goes down.
    3. You may have planted too late and did not water your bulbs until our ground froze. Your bulbs did not grow enough roots to harden off for our severe Minnesota winters. Your bulbs should be in the ground no later than October 15th and watered 1/2" to an inch every week if we don't get rain.

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Topic 3 — They look sick

  • I have horizontal browning on my daffodil leaves and distorted green petals on the back of my daffodils. Is this a disease?

    No, your leaves have just suffered some weather discoloration. Minnesota Springs can have cold snaps that cause leaf damage and distort a petal or two of flowers. Division 4 varieties are especially prone to weather greening on their petals and sometimes they will not double if Spring weather is harsh.

  • I have yellow streaking vertically all up and down my daffodil leaves. Is this a disease?

    Yes, this is classic virus streaking. Immediately dig up the bulb and destroy it — do not put it into your compost pile. For the next season or two, carefully watch for the same symptoms in surrounding daffodils. The virus is spread through root contact and by unsterile cutting tools.

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Topic 4 — Cutting for Vases

  • How do I cut daffodils for a vase?

    Two methods work for cutting daffodils. The finger method is just snapping off the daffodil flower stem near ground level with your thumb and forefinger. You may use a knife, but be sure not to damage any leaves which are needed for photosynthesis for next year's bloom. Any cutting tool should be sterilized in bleach between cuts to avoid spreading virus.

  • When I mix daffodils with other cut flowers, the other flowers wilt within a day. What's wrong?

    Daffodils are toxic to deer, rabbits and squirrels. But they are also toxic to other cut flowers without special treatment. Place your cut daffodils in a separate water container for several hours or overnight. Recut their stems and add to your mixed floral vase using clean water.

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Topic 5 — Mowing Naturalized Areas

  • When can I mow my lawn with naturalized daffodil bulbs?

    Wait at least six weeks after last bloom. Cutting off a daffodil's leaves before then will weaken the bulb and it will eventually die out. The leaves manufacture food for next year's bloom.

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Topic 6 — Daffodil, Narcissus, Jonquil — What’s the difference?

  • What is the difference between daffodils and narcissus?

    None. The two words are synonyms. Narcissus is the Latin or botanical name for all daffodils, just as ilex is for hollies. Daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus Narcissus, and its use is recommended by the American Daffodil Society (ADS) at all times other than in scientific writing.

  • What is a jonquil?

    In some parts of the country any yellow daffodil is called a jonquil, usually incorrectly. As a rule, but not always, jonquil species and hybrids are characterized by several yellow flowers, strong scent, and rounded foliage. Daff-aholics call these ‘Division 7’.

  • See Glossary for additional information.

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Topic 7 — Buying Bulbs

  • When I buy the bulbs, sometimes they have 1 or 2 smaller bulbs attached. Should I break them apart before planting?

    No! The parent bulb is indeed dividing, and you got ‘two for the price of one,’ a good deal! We call these ‘noses’, so your bulb is a ‘2 nose’ or ‘3 nose’ bulb. Leave them attached and plant together in one hole. They will separate on their own eventually as the smaller nose gets large enough. If they break apart before planting, either plant together or dig a second hole for smaller nose. Look for bulbs with multiple ‘noses’ when you buy bulbs to get more for your money.

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