Why don’t my daffodils re-bloom?

Beckie Fox

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Daffodil on Garden Making Instagram by Gary Hall
Daffodil on Garden Making Instagram by Gary Hall
Daffodil on Garden Making Instagram by Gary Hall

Question from Pamela in Sarnia

For years, I have planted daffodils in the fall. They bloom the next spring and then never bloom again. I have never had one re-bloom. Any explanation ? 

Beckie’s reply:

Daffodils are generally reliable bloomers. A bonus is that they’re unpalatable to deer, squirrels and rabbits, which often treat a display of spring-blooming bulbs as their personal salad bar.

Here’s a checklist of what keeps daffodils happy from year to year: 

  • A sunny location. They will tolerate part shade, but produce fewer flowers in shade. 
  • Well-drained soil. Like most bulbs, they dislike sitting in soggy soil, especially in summer.
  • Proper planting depth. Make sure there is about three inches (8 cm) of soil over the top of the bulbs at planting time. Space standard-size daffodils two to three inches (5 to 8 cm) apart.
  • Allow the leaves to fully ripen after plants bloom. Don’t remove the foliage or braid it, cut it or trim it until most of the leaves have yellowed and died back. This is hard for most people to do — daffodil foliage begins to look ratty after the flowers are finished, but this is the stage when bulbs are bulking up for next season’s bloom. It’s fine to remove the flower stalks, but leave the leaves alone.

You mention that your daffodils flowered the first year after planting, but then not again. Because the bulbs you planted had already produced what they needed to bloom the following spring, you had beautiful flowers that first spring. However, if the foliage was removed before it had a chance to ripen — or there was too much shade, soggy soil, etc. — then they wouldn’t have been healthy enough to produce flowers in their second year.

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11 thoughts on “Why don’t my daffodils re-bloom?”

  1. In all areas of my garden the daffodils do poorer than the tulips. Flowering less and less yearly , but the tulips multiply. I now only plant them to keep the squirrels away from any new tulip bulbs. Even if a daffodil patch is blooming , I’ve never had every plant produce a bloom [2nd year] even though the leaves seem exactly the same as their neighbour. – sandy soil Brantford ON

  2. Ask neighbouring gardeners if they too lost their daffodils this year. One year all of mine and the crocuses were eaten by field mice.Squirrels will do the same.

  3. Jennifer Wingate has the solution : “a good sprinkle of a bulb fertilizer, (or any one with low nitrogen, high phosphorus) or a generous layer of home made compost just as the daffs push through the soil, will help the bulbs build up the flower for next spring.”

  4. I live in Campbellford in southern Ontario and I too have had a disappointing show of daffodils this year from very reliable bulbs. I wonder if the winter weather had an impact. My bulbs started coming through the ground in late January and then we had episodes of very cold and warm weather with not a great deal of snow cover. The tips of many of the leaves have frost damage and I wondered if that affected the flowers?? Any thoughts?

    • I’ve been hearing about recalcitrant daffodils from a few other gardeners, too. Many factors can affect bulb bloom time and overall vigour. Our relatively mild winter could have had an effect, but I haven’t heard anything definitive from bulb experts. If I do, we will be sure to include their thoughts in a future blog post or newsletter.

  5. Would it be worthwhile to dig up non-blooming daffodils (planted in shade) and move them to a sunnier location?

    • Hello Catherine:
      Yes, I think it’s worth a try. You’ve got nothing to lose, and they might rebloom next spring or the following spring. Whether you move them now or later, just make sure you let the foliage ripen. If it’s a large, congested clump, you might consider spacing the bulbs a bit farther apart—say an inch or so of space between each one.

      Good luck. Let us know how it goes!

  6. I eagerly read the answer to why daffodils don’t rebloom, but was disappointed that I seem to do all that is required (leave the foliage, well drained bed, sunny location) but still have very disappointing re-bloom results. I have applied well composted manure both in the spring after blooming and in other years in the fall, but neither time seems to have had the “magic”. Are there varieties of ‘species’ daffodils?

    • It’s interesting to read all of your comments regarding daffodils. This seems to be a challenging year for these stalwarts spring blooms! Just another thought: In addition to a well-drained site, daffodils (like most spring-blooming bulbs) prefer slightly dry conditions in the summer months. If you have daffodils in lawns or perennial beds that receive regular heavy irrigation, this may not be to their liking.

  7. I gather the leaves of several daffodils/narcissus and braid them together, then wind the braid in a circle with the ends pushed through the centre of the circle. Then leave them to wither naturally, ground cover around the daffodil beds help to cover the withering braid and it puts all the nutrient back into the bed leaving it neat and tidy. This is a trick my mother in law left with me, and she got it from her Scottish Father, who won a few flower shows in Toronto in the 1916=18 era.

  8. Along with the excellent advice given by Beckie, a good sprinkle of a bulb fertilizer, (or any one with low nitrogen, high phosphorus) or a generous layer of home made compost just as the daffs push through the soil, will help the bulbs build up the flower for next spring. Sometimes digging and replanting may also help.JW


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