Daffodil Society of Minnesota

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Indoor Daffodils

Indoor Daffodils
Extending Your Daffodil Season

In Minnesota, you can have daffodils in bloom from autumn through late spring. You can extend your daffodil season by potting up bulbs for indoor bloom. The earliest autumn bloomers are the annual Tazettas or “Paperwhites.” Next to bloom indoors in pots are the perennial Tazettas. The normally outdoor hardy daffodils can be timed to bloom indoors in pots from January through April.

In addition, there are some species narcissus that can be grown indoors in pots in Minnesota with a bit more patience and skill. These have varying bloom times.

See pictures at www.daffseek.org

Sources for bulbs at www.daffodilusa.org

Division 8 Tazetta

Not perennial in indoor pots—treat as annuals
Normal bloom time is mid to late autumn

“Paperwhites”
Name Color Rooting time to bloom
Name Color Rooting time to bloom
Ziva 8W-W 3-4 weeks
Israel 8W-Y 4-5 weeks
Omri 8W-Y 4-5 weeks
Constantinople 8W-Y 4-5 weeks
Yael 8W-Y 4-5 weeks

First letter code is petal color, second letter code is cup color:
W = white R = red Y = yellow P = pink O = orange G = green

Shallower pots work well with these annual varieties. They can even be grown in clear glass vases with stones and water as long as water levels remain just below the base of the bulbs. These varieties begin to grow roots and send up shoots as soon as our temperatures begin to drop in autumn even without being watered. To pot, first soak the bulbs in tepid water for 30 minutes. These varieties benefit greatly from alcohol added to water to help keep stems shorter (ratio 1:9). Bright light during the day and cool nighttime temperatures will prolong bloom. Stems may have to be tied or supported to keep flowers upright if stems get too tall. No fertilizing is necessary. These bulbs can be discarded immediately after blooms fade as they will not bloom in future years. To delay bloom times, keep unpotted bulbs as dry as possible. You should not try to delay blooming of these varieties more than a couple of weeks.

See pictures at www.daffseek.org

Sources for bulbs at www.daffodilusa.org

Division 8 Tazetta

Perennial in indoor pots but not hardy outdoors in Minnesota
Normal bloom time is late autumn, early winter

“Tazetta”
Name Color Rooting time to bloom
Name Color Rooting time to bloom
Sugar Cups 8Y-Y 7-9 weeks
Avalanche 8W-Y 5-7 weeks
Grand Monarque 8W-Y 5-7 weeks
Golden Dawn 8Y-O 6-8 weeks
Liquid Sun 8Y-O 6-8 weeks
Avalanche of Gold 8Y-Y 6-8 weeks
Grand Soleil d’Or 8Y-O 5-6 weeks
Chinese Sacred Lily Species 4-6 weeks

First letter code is petal color, second letter code is cup color:
W = white R = red Y = yellow P = pink O = orange G = green

Potting: New pots should provide at least 5 inches of root growth room to keep bulbs healthy for repeated yearly cycles of bloom. To delay rooting and blooming, keep bulbs as warm and dry as possible. Soil mix should contain 1/3 builder’s sand/granite grit with soilless mix. Pure sand can be used for the top one inch. Bulb tips can be slightly out of the soil/sand. Add low nitrogen fertilizer to soil mix or water with a liquid fertilizer during shoot development.

Pre-Bloom: Pots should be deeply and thoroughly watered to begin root development the number of weeks before bloom is desired in the late autumn. Add water only when soil in root area below bulbs starts to dry out during rooting weeks. Keep in a cool location not above 55° F. at night. Brightest light available will keep flower stems from elongating; so will a little alcohol in the watering water (ratio 1:9).

Bloom and after bloom: Keep moist as flowers open. Pots can be moved to interior rooms during bloom. Cooler room temperatures will extend bloom times. After blooms fade, continue watering to keep foliage green and maintain brightest light available for at least 10 weeks. Bulbs will naturally go dormant as temperatures rise and days lengthen. Taper off watering slowly after the foliage has fallen over until all of the foliage has turned yellow down to the soil line. Entire pot with bulbs can be stored in a warm and dry place until following autumn.

Repotting: Repot only as bulbs divide and begin to crowd each other.

Indoor Daffodils

All Outdoor Hardy Divisions
“Forcing Bulbs into bloom”

Most daffodils that are hardy outdoors in Minnesota can be tricked into blooming indoors during our extra long winters. This trickery is called “forcing.” The best varieties to force are the early and mid-early season varieties. Most late-blooming varieties do not bloom reliably when they are forced.

However, if you fail to get all of your daffodil bulbs planted outdoors before October 15th, your only salvation is to plant them in pots for the winter, regardless of their bloom season or quality of bloom. Daffodil bulbs will not “hold over” until the following year to be planted in your garden; they will dry out and die unless potted so their leaves can produce food for the bulb’s survival.

The Forcing Trick

You need to mimic a winter’s nap for hardy daffodils to ripen their flower bud. This nap must be approximately 12 weeks of a cold period with temperatures between 32°F. and 54°F. Pots should be kept in a freeze-proof garage or refrigerator. Other options are an inside wall cupboard in an unheated attached garage or an insulated box placed against the warmest wall of the garage. Pots cannot be left outdoors as Minnesota’s winter temperatures fluctuate too often, alternatively freezing and thawing them, and this will kill the daffodils.

Potting: Pots should provide at least 5 inches of root growth room to keep bulbs healthy for either repeated yearly cycles of bloom in their pot or planting outdoors next year. Soil mix should contain 1/3 builder’s sand/granite grit with soilless mix. Pure sand can be used for the top one inch. Bulb tips can be just peeking out of the soil/sand or slightly below. Add low nitrogen fertilizer to soil mix or water with a liquid fertilizer during shoot development. Pots should be deeply and thoroughly watered to begin root development and placed in their cold period environment. Add water only when soil in root area below bulbs starts to dry out during rooting weeks. If refrigerated, check for dryness every two weeks.

Check at 8 weeks for emergence of flower bud. If flower buds have emerged and are pushing apart the two earliest leaf tips, bring pot into moderate light for one week. Then move pot to the brightest light available. Cool nighttime temperatures will mimic an outdoor spring.

Bloom and after bloom: Keep moist as flowers open. Pots can be moved to interior rooms during bloom. Cooler room temperatures will extend bloom times, especially at night. After blooms fade, continue watering to keep foliage green and maintain brightest light available for at least 10 weeks. Bulbs will naturally go dormant as temperatures rise and days lengthen. Taper off watering slowly after the foliage has fallen over until all of the foliage has turned yellow down to the soil line. Allow pots to go completely dry.

Planting out into garden: Wait until garden soil is thoroughly warmed—usually early summer—before trying to plant daffodils that have been forced. Your window to get the bulbs planted into the garden lasts until October 15th. Gently remove bulbs from their potted soil and plant at normal depths and with desired spacing between bulbs. Avoid plunging the entire pot into cold and wet soils in early spring—your pot just thought it was done with the coldness of winter and has just gone dormant for the heat of summer. Don’t confuse the bulbs anymore, one “trick” per year is enough! Your bulbs should bloom at their normal time next spring.

Repotting: Alternatively, you may keep the bulbs in their pot and force them again next winter. Repot only as bulbs divide and begin to crowd each other. The entire pot with bulbs can be stored in a warm and dry place until autumn. Fertilize with initial watering to start root growth and again as shoots emerge.

A couple of daffodils which require a shorter cold period to force are Monal 2 Y-R and Rijnveld’s Early Sensation 1 Y-Y. Divisions 6 and 7 are also good forcers. Most of the early to mid-season miniatures are also good forcers.

See pictures at www.daffseek.org

Sources for bulbs at www.daffodilusa.org

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