Spring bulbs, Daffodils and Tulips


I’ve planted daffodils each year for the last 4 years. The first year, they look great; the second year, there are half as many and the third year they’re often gone altogether.
I have even less luck with tulips, many of which never bloom at all.
Conditions: clay soil; part light shade, part direct sun; black walnut, oak and maple trees (I do look for juglone tolerant plants).
Can you help? Thank you for this service.


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Daffodils are juglone tolerant plants. They love a well-drained, sunny place. You can improve the drainage of your clay soil by adding well-rotted compost (more info right here)

Daffodils appreciate being fed a few times a season. Choose a higher phosphorus, lower nitrogen combo, of say 5-10-10, to promote root and blossom growth, and follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.

The plants replenish their bulbs for up to 2 months after blooming, so do not cut off any growth. In fact, resist twisting or bundling up the leaves, as this reduces important photosynthesis: never cut the foliage until it begins to yellow (usually late May or June).

The problem with your tulips is different. The second year blooming is totally dependent of the plant you planted. Tulips may be grown as perennials or as annuals. Species tulips often perform better than hybrid plants as perennials. Here is a complete explanation of how to choose your tulips and how to take care of them.

Good luck with your spring bulbs.