As spring comes around, daffodils begin to bloom. These beautiful yellow flowers are one of the first signs of hope as we come out of the cold winter months. In many UK gardens, daffodils grow naturally, without homeowners ever having to plant a bulb. In other cases, you may have planted a glorious daffodil display, but either way, knowing how to care for them is essential. One of the most pressing questions is should daffodils be deadheaded?
Unlike many other types of flowers, daffodils do not need to be deadheaded. Not doing so won’t affect their vigour. However, many people still like to deadhead these plants purely for visual appeal.
While deadheading may seem like a relatively simple task, there is a knack to deadheading daffodils. Along with this, there are some important aspects of care for these flowers, if you want them to thrive. Let’s explore!
What Is Deadheading?
Deadheading refers to a gardening practice where any spent flowers are removed from a plant. This can be done for aesthetic purposes or for the benefit of the plant. When deadheading, the flowers are cut or pinched from the point where they join the stem. In doing this, further growth is encouraged.
If plants are not deadheaded, then you may find that they appear lacklustre and fail to flourish. However, regular deadheading encourages the plant to bear new flowers and while it can be something of a tedious task, especially in gardens where there are a lot of plants, you will be rewarded by a second, and potentially third bloom.
Do Daffodils Need To Be Deadheaded?
Daffodils are one of the few plants that do not require deadheading. If this is not done, you will still get plants that flower regularly. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the flowers may only blossom to their best every few years.
For daffodils that are regularly deadheaded, this will encourage further growth. Rather than the plant having to put all of its energy into going to seed, there will be plenty of energy left over to create new bulblets. This means that, over the course of many years, you will continue to have a rather hardy daffodil crop.
While daffodils are pretty resilient plants and will continue to grow year after year, not deadheading them could result in daffodil blindness. This is when the plants will grow, but no flowers will appear. If you want that flash of soft yellow spring after spring, deadheading is a good idea.
Furthermore, spent flowers do not look at all attractive and this can ruin the overall appearance of your garden. Even for hobby gardeners who aren’t too concerned over whether the flowers will return the following year, keeping things looking tidy and pretty is likely a priority.
How To Deadhead Daffodils
It can be tempting to rush outside and simply pull the spent flowers off each daffodil and be done with it. After all, if you have a lot of these flowers growing in your garden, deadheading them all can be quite an overwhelming task. But, with this in mind, we should remember that deadheading your daffodils, or any other plant, for that matter, should be done delicately.
The last thing you want is to damage parts of the plant that are still alive and well. The best way to remove the spent flowers is to grip them firmly but gently between your thumb and forefinger and snap the dead flower away. Alternatively, you can use secateurs to cut the deadheads.
When deadheading your daffodils, it is essential to ensure that the remaining foliage is not cut back. Because daffodils are a bulb, this greenery must die off by itself if you want the plants to return the following year. All of the energy from the dead foliage will return to the bulb for just as an impressive display next spring.
The problem with this is that you will end up with a rather unimpressive looking array of brown leaves as the plants begin to die off. Of course, you can just leave these where they are and let nature take its course but many people find that they do not like the appearance and want to do something about it.
One of the most effective ways to allow the daffodils to die off on their own without affecting the aesthetic of your garden is to plant some perennials around them to mask their appearance. If this doesn’t sound like something you want to do, there is also the option to tie the daffodil leaves with twine to neaten them up as they die off.
Once you have removed all of the spent flowers, you should take this opportunity to fertilise the soil which will further encourage healthy future growth. One of the best options in a bone meal fertiliser.
Top Tips For Healthy Daffodils
Deadheading is just one of the ways that you can encourage your daffodils to bloom year after year. Take a look at these helpful tips:
- If you are planting daffodils, always make sure to plant the bulbs at least eight inches away from one another and at a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
- Daffodils like well drained soil so before planting, be sure to choose a good location and prepare the soil accordingly.
- Once the flowers have died, you can generously water the greenery to encourage it to die down.
- Daffodils should not be planted near trees and will do well when grown in soil that contains organic mulch.
- Daffodils may struggle to thrive when they are overcrowded. If you have noticed that yours have struggled to flower, it can be a good idea to lift the bulbs in summer and relocate them, spreading them out with enough room to flourish.
- Narcissus bulb fly will kill the bulbs and if yours become affected, the bulbs should be thrown away to avoid further spread.
Daffodils do not need to be deadheaded although doing so will encourage the plants to bloom year after year. What’s more, removing the spent flowers is a great way to keep your garden looking spic and span. But you should keep in mind that cutting back the green foliage may be detrimental to the plants ability to thrive the following spring so this should be avoided. Check out our other article on how to deadhead and lift daffodil bulbs.
Garden Doctor Tips
“To prevent overcrowding, daffodil clumps should be split around every 3 years!”
“Leave your daffodils to die off naturally and remove the foliage after it begins to wilt and die off!”
“Once the foliage has died back, the bulbs can be lifted and stored for the winter!”
“Daffodil bulbs can be planted out after the last frost date!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I cut the dead flowers off my daffodils?
There is no need to remove the dead flower heads as this will not affect your plant. You must however leave the foliage in place until it begins to die back as the foliage will absorb the sunlight to store energy in the bulb for the following year.
Do you cut back daffodils after they bloom?
Dead daffodil flowers can be removed although this is purely for aesthetics. The foliage should never be cut back until they have begun to wilt and die off on their own. The foliage is needed to store energy for the bulb.
What is the best way to deadhead daffodils?
The best way to remove spent daffodil heads is to find the small bulbous part of the stem just below the flower head and pinch between your forefinger and thumb.