Questions on: Daffodil

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service

Q: I planted daffodil bulbs last year. The shoots came up, but no blooms. Will they come up next year or should I replant? (e-mail reference)

A: If the leaves came up, that is at least a good sign. I would allow them to stay through next spring, but if flowers do not grow, dig them out and replace.

Q: I have a number of tulip and daffodil bulbs. Some are dry and some are in pots. Id like to get them into the garden. I know that one is supposed to plant them in the fall, but what would happen if they went into the ground now? Would the bulbs die, rot, never bloom again or what? (e-mail reference)

A: I dont know, so take your pick. If you can, try to keep them dry and cool for now, and plant them in September. Then hope for the best next spring. I think everything will turn out better for you if you can wait until then.

Q: With the lovely, warm weather weve been having, the hyacinths and daffodils on the south side of my house are coming up. Should I start watering them or pretend I cant see them and leave them alone? (e-mail reference)

A: Pretend for right now. Bulbs are good at extracting moisture out of the soil. You could have problems with the bulbs if you water too much. It is better to err a little on the dry side.

Q: Some of my daffodils are in a bed that has become shaded as the trees around it have grown. I would like to move them to an area with more sun. When is the best time to dig them up? Do I have to do anything special to the bulbs before I replant them? (e-mail reference)

A: Move them after a good frost hits your area. Replant only healthy, firm bulbs and discard the others

Q: Two thirds of my daffodils only came up half way or less and produced no flowers. This happened last spring too. The soil is not hard and I fertilize regularly. Are they too deep? I followed the package instructions for planting. Also, for how many years should a person water transplanted trees? They are ponderosa, spruce, and ash trees. (Onida, S.D.)

A: The daffodils are planted too deeply or they are in too much shade such as the north side of a house. If things don't improve next season, dig them up and replant but not as deep or replant in a sunnier location. The first season is very critical. Regarding your transplanted trees, I generally recommend three years of watering unless in a drought situation. By then the root system should be well enough developed to mine adequate moisture out of the soil between normal rainfall events.

Q: I just put several daffodils under an evergreen tree that we have in the front yard. The branches had been taken off up to 6 feet off the ground (this was done by the previous owners). My husband is concerned that the flowers won't do well because of the acidity of the needles. Do I need to replant them to another spot? (Moorhead, Minn.)

A: No need to worry. I have never known daffodils to be bothered by the effects of needle drop. They will do well, in fact beautifully, in such a setting.

Q. I have some daffodil and tulip bulbs in my refrigerator and I was wondering when I should start these to hopefully get them to bloom by Easter? (Stratford, S.D., e-mail)

A. Get some stones or peat moss and place them in pots, trying to keep them as cool as possible, and giving them as much light as possible. If you can get the nights down to 55F or lower, this would be best. Enjoy! I'd be surprised if some of them are not already sprouting!

Q. Your column is very helpful. Will Manchurian apricot pollinate a Moongold apricot? Is Manchurian apricot sort of like a wild plum? I mean real common.  Will a wild plum pollinate Underwood plum? I had Pipestone plum and fruit from it and did not have a pollinator. I suppose it lived 15 years. Some wild plum around.  Can you tell me anything about summer cypress or standing cypress? A friend gave seed and in her yard it looks easy to grow but I have trouble starting it. I have found it listed in a 1962 House and Garden bulletin from the Department of Ag—only identified, but I was glad for that identification.  Do you need to thin daffodils? If so, how often? Mine have lots of shoots for which I am happy, but I sure want to keep them doing well. Thanks. (Pierre, S.D.)

A. Thank you for the nice comments about the column.

The answers are "yes" to your first two questions.

The summer cypress is Kochia scoparia, and also has the common name of burning bush because of its blazing fall color. Seeds need to be soaked for 24 hours, then germinated at 70 F. It is one of the toughest, most heat-tolerant annuals on earth. Makes a nice temporary hedge.

Yes, daffodils can be thinned every three to five years.

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