Mercervale Daffodils and Nursery

Daffodil Info

Healthy daffodil bulbs just lifted

Selecting Bulbs

Always buy your bulbs from reputable growers and suppliers.  Check for firmness - any bulb that is soft should not be planted and should be destroyed, preferably by incinerating.  Check the basal plate for holes which may indicate the presence of the narcissus fly grub.  Check for small brown soft patches just above the basal plate.  If in doubt, chuck it out! 

Planting Daffodils

NOTE:  These notes pertain to southern New Zealand conditions.  For your particular region/country, please consult local recommendations.

March/April is the best time for planting your daffodils.  Daffodils are very easy to grow in most soils, but will not tolerate very rich soil or nitrogenous manure and fertilisers.  They particularly love newly cultivated lawn or pasture.  They happily grow around trees and in lawns BUT please don’t mow off the leaves until they have died down.  They need the nutrients contained in their leaves.

You can add bulb fertiliser (recipe below) prior to planting.  A good way is to dig the hole to the desired depth, then remove a little more soil, sprinkle a small handful of fertiliser into the hole and mix it with the soil and replacing a little soil so that the freshly sprouting roots will not be burnt, plant the bulb/s and wait till spring!  Apply at the rate of approximate one handful per square metre.  A good time to apply to bulbs that have been down for a year or more is at planting time i.e. March/April.

Fertiliser recipe:

          2 parts superphosphate

          1 part blood and bone

          1 part sulphate of potash

Apply at the rate of approximate one handful per square metre.  A good time to apply to bulbs that have been down for a year or more is at planting time i.e. March/AprilRemember to water your daffodils if dry until about mid November.  Look after that foliage - it is the bulb’s natural food store.  Allow to die down naturally.

Planting Depths

Proportionate to the size of the bulb.  It is best to plant shallow than too deep which inhibits flowering and bulb multiplication.  The bulb has thick outer roots which are contractile and can pull the bulb down to its preferred depth which is different for each variety.  Sorry, they can’t pull themselves back up so don’t dig halfway to Spain. 

Naturalising Daffodils

Nothing looks lovelier than drifts of daffodils in fields – add some new lambs and small children and you have the image of spring. 

A good way to achieve drifts is to use large numbers of one variety and get a head start by planting 3 or 5 bulbs to a ‘clump’.  Avoid marching them out like soldiers – instead plant randomly.  A good method for achieving this effect with mixed bulbs is to stand in one spot, grab a handful of bulbs and toss.  Providing a fat bulb hasn’t knocked you out you then plant them where they land.  Move on a little and toss again.  A narrow tree planting spade or a crow bar will save a lot of effort in digging a hole.

The Dying Down Daffodil Dilemma

Yes we know.  They look rather unsightly dying down.  What to do?  Question should be ‘What NOT to do?’

Don’t cut off the leaves – PLEASE – the nutrients in those leaves provide the energy for next year’s spectacular performance.  Remove them only when they come away from the bulb without yanking.  Think disguise not destroy.  Try planting rapid growing perennials in front of your daffodils.  If you must tie them, do so very loosely so that the leaf does not crack or break to avoid disrupting the flow of sap back down to the bulb.  Grow naturalised daffodils further from the house where you are happier letting the lawn grow until your daffs have died down.

Two Daffodil Myths

Daffodils don’t last long’

Wrong!  By simple selection of varieties you can have daffodils flowering from winter until early summer AND did you know that there are autumn flowering varieties?  Our variety list notes flowering times of the varieties we grow to guide your selections.  Sorry, although I have just purchased some of the autumn flowerers there are none to spare yet!!

You only get daffodils from bulb increase’

Wrong!  Daffodils are also grown from seed.  That is how most new and improved varieties are grown.  One of our sons was seriously miffed when his school project was marked down by a teacher who stated that daffodils weren’t grown from seed.  His insistence that his mother grew them from seed was neither appreciated or believed!  Check out ‘Little Henry’ (top left of page) – my very first, and at present my only, named and registered seedling!

Two myths busted!

Mercervale Daffodils & Nursery

Nursery set in rural South Otago stocking native plants, grasses, perennials, trees and shrubs and bulbs. Specialist in daffodils and welcome visitors in spring to view the collection of over 800 named varieties. The daffodil barn has a photographic display for out of season selection of these spring beauties.