Is it Too Late to Plant Daffodils?

(Question)

I bought some daffodil bulbs at a cheap price. Is it too late to put them in the ground? What should I do?

(Answer)

As a general rule, spring flowering bulbs should be planted in early autumn, so that the roots will have time to establish themselves before winter starts. It is now December, which might be too late for daffodils, as temperatures will begin go lower and the ground may freeze. On the other hand, tulips and other thick-skinned (or tunicate) bulbs can sometime be planted almost as late as you can get a spade into the soil.

Of course the weather is a determining factor in both instances above. Fall 2015 has been quite mild. If it continues into December your daffodil bulbs stand a chance of developing roots for next spring, provided you plant them as soon as possible.

Storing the bulbs for next autumn is not really a good option. Most likely they will completely dry out or become covered with fungi and moulds, thus rendering them useless.

You could also try potting up the bulbs to grow indoors. If you pot them up now you will need to store them for 10-13 weeks in a cool, dark spot where the temperate is 7-10C or less, such as an unheated garage or even the refrigerator. Remember, you don’t want the bulbs to freeze.

You’ll need a good potting mixture (which we’ll call “soil”) and a pot with drainage holes. Plant several  bulbs in a pot, spacing them more closely together and more shallowly than you would outdoors. Check periodically to keep soil moist. In early spring, bring the pots into a brighter spot and you should see the tips of the bulbs appear. With luck they will continue to grow and produce flowers.

Any that bloom can be transplanted to the garden after the flowers have died back. Don’t be surprised if they take a while to re-bloom though; maybe even a couple of years. They need to restore their energy and become acclimatized to their new surroundings.

Good luck with your daffodils!

See the following articles for details on forcing bulbs in the fridge:

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/indoor/flowering/hgic1556.html

https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Forcing-Flower-Bulbs  (go to link & click on “download” to see actual article)

For further useful information, please refer to the following articles:

https://www.canadiangardening.com/plants/flower-bulbs/planting-last-minute-bulbs/a/1269

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/planting-forced-daffodils-and-hyacinth-in-the-garden/