By Molly Day
All the Dirt on Gardening
Daffodil planting season is here and it is time to shop the stores or place your mail order for daffodil bulbs to plant in October and November.
The American Daffodil Society website (www.daffodilusa.org) has tips for successful bulb selection.
• Order early — This is not a marketing gimmick. Early orders generally get the pick of the crop. Your chances are better of getting exactly what you order with no surprises.
• Read the fine print — Check the guarantee. Terms vary widely. Will they replace or refund in case of problems. Are the bulbs guaranteed true to name?
• Compare prices — Prices are not the same. Our opinion is that you do get what you pay for. Cheap bulbs are generally cheap for a reason. Smaller bulbs generally give smaller and fewer flowers. If it seems too good to be true, it may well be!
• Be aware — Some general bulb merchants routinely change bulb names and some may even substitute varieties without your knowledge. We can’t control it and we certainly don’t encourage such practices. Ask other gardeners on Web forums about their experiences with specific suppliers.
• Visit a daffodil show this spring — Your local or regional spring daffodil show is a perfect place to view many different types of daffodils. You can easily find out which varieties do well in your part of the world.
Muskogee’s Daffodil Day at the Thomas-Foreman Historic Home (www.thomas-foremanhistorichome.com), 1419 West Okmulgee, will be March 29, 2014. The event will include a tour of the home and a tea presented by Muskogee Garden Club members.
Last year Muskogee Garden Club members planted 1,000 historic daffodils from Old House Gardens (www.oldhousegardens.com). This October, they are adding more bulbs to the beds on the Okmulgee Street side. On the advice of Jason Delaney, the bulb supervisor at Missouri Botanical Garden, more large-cup, early varieties from ColorBlends (www.colorblends.com) will be planted.
Delaney recommended Brackenhurst daffodils because they have “stems of steel” and can withstand our strong spring winds. The other two, strong, perennial, early blooming varieties he suggested are Ceylon and Pimpernel. Pimpernel’s orange center can become almost red some years, according to Delaney.
Daffodil growing tips from the American Daffodil Society:
• Plant bulbs in soil prepared to 12 inches deep in a well-drained, sunny place. Hillsides and raised beds are best. Drainage is the key.
• Plant with the top (pointed end) at least two times as deep as the bulb is high, (top of 2” bulb is 4” deep), and plant even deeper in sandy soil.
• Top-dress with 5-10-10 fertilizer when the leaf-tips emerge. As they flower, top-dress with 0-10-10 or 0-0-50.
• Daffodils need lots of water while growing. Water immediately after planting and keep them moist until the rains come. Continue watering for three weeks or so after blooming time; then stop watering.
• Leave daffodils in the ground for three to five years, and then move them to a new location.
• Never cut the foliage until it begins to yellow.
This week Timber Press (www.timberpress.com) released a new book about them, “Daffodil: The remarkable story of the world’s most popular spring flower” by Noel Kingsbury with photographs by Jo Whitworth. List price $27.50.
The book has fun facts about daffodils, their history, and photographs of hundreds of varieties.
Kingsbury is British so the text is Europe and Britain-centric though it does not detract from the key information provided.
Kingsbury recommends bulbs from Elise and Richard Havens (www.mitschdaffodils.com), Brent and Becky Heath (https://store.brentandbeckysbulbs.com), as well as hybrids identified as being developed Robert Spotts, and Harold Koopowitz.
Whether they are miniature or tall, yellow or white, daffodils bring spring cheer.