Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dividing Daffodils

Over the years, a single daffodil bulb can produce many offsets. While small-flowered or species daffodils, such as Narcissus bulbocodium, N. asturiensis, and N. obvallaris, will continue to flower well even when congested, large-flowered cultivars will suffer as they become crowded, and bear fewer, smaller, or no blossoms after three or four years. Dividing the clumps of bulbs will relieve overcrowding while giving you a supply of new daffodils to brighten future plantings.
  1. Plan to dig your daffodils in summer just after the foliage ripens and dies down. The location of the bulbs will be apparent because you will still be able to see where the foliage enters the ground. A flat-tined garden fork will make short work of unearthing large clumps of bulbs and is less likely to damage the bulbs than a spade. Insert the tines in the soil several inches away from the bulbs so as not to spear them and carefully pry out a clump of bulbs.
  2. Because bruised bulbs may rot, handle the bulbs gently. Use your fingers to brush off excess soil. Many of the bulbs will separate naturally as you remove the soil, while others may remain connected at the bottom or basal plate. Carefully break apart those that are loosely connected, leaving the offsets that are firmly attached to the mother bulb. Discard any bulbs that are damaged, soft, or rotten.

  3. Daffodil bulbs can be planted immediately or stored for fall planting. If you opt for storage, it is a good idea to cure the bulbs so that they will harden and keep better. To do so, set an old window screen on two boxes or sawhorses out of the rain in a shady spot with good air circulation. Gently lay the bulbs on the screen in a single layer. After a few days of curing, put the bulbs into paper bags and place them in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated location for storage

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