Emergency Daffodil Planting Measures

January 8, 2008
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Categories: Bulb Information, Daffodil Types, Growing Daffodils, Planting, Standards

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Some of us were taken to task for implying that pasting bulbs together with mud, planting them at our leisure months after the ideal time, soaking them in magic potions, and so on, were standard operating procedures, or might be taken as such by people new to daffodils.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Most parts of the country have ideal planting drop-dead dates (I think Minnesota, for example, tries to get them in the ground by the first of November or so). Generally, the earlier the ground freezes the earlier you need to plant.
All the other suggestions applied to wounded, sick, or worse bulbs.
Here in Cincinnati, Zone 5b/6a, I like to have my planting finished before Thanksgiving. That doesn’t always happen, but when it doesn’t, I don’t count on later-planted bulbs having great flowers. In unusual years I have planted in January because I didn’t have time earlier. Many of those did not survive.
But we’re all gardeners, aren’t we? We know that there is an ideal plant it has its ideal planting season and care requirements. But sometimes we have to fudge it. At our own risk.
Bill Lee

10 responses to “Emergency Daffodil Planting Measures”

  1. Peter and Lesley Ramsay says:

    Like Bill I have been chided for not making it clear that the two situations I described were not usual and certainly not good practice.  Frankly I doubt that anyone would have thought that very late planting or dessication which occurred in both instances  was ideal!  In fact I thought that would have been clear from the manner in which I described the two incidents.  What I was trying to suggest was that people should not throw away precious bulbs before trying to rescue them  I am very sorry if anyone has been misled.

    In the cultural manual which I wrote for the National Daffodil Society of New Zealand I cite research which makes it clear that Daffodils will not begin growth until soil temperatures drop to 15 degrees Centigrade.  I also drew attention to controlled research at the Rosewarne Research Institute in the UK which  showed that late planting drastically reduced the numbers of flowers.  Indeed in their second year of flowering those planted on August  12 increased flowering by 223% compared with those planted on November 4 where the increase was only 82%. 

    I hope this makes it clear that I would not recommend late planting except in the circumstances described above.  I still wonder though what made Scarlet Gem so good when late planted.  Perhaps it was fighting for life – as John Lea once remarked to me that unlike humans daffodils are at their best not long before they die!

    Peter

  2. Clay Higgins says:

    Peter,
    Not trying a one-upmanship here, however, there doesn’t seem to be a stock answer to the replanting question, to include the cold to reset the bulbs.
    In the fall of 2006 I didn’t receive my order from an American supplier.  With the intervention of some mutual friends, I received a shipment of about 20 bulbs in late April 2007.  They were not the right bulbs, but bulbs are bulbs and I chose to call it even-steven and forget the whole matter.
    Anyway I planted them in my garden around the end of April 2007, in NC which is zone 8.  There will be no cold weather in NC zone 8 which is the beach weather in NC.  Instead of cold, it’s mostly time for shorts and T shirts.  I planted them on the end of a bed that was already at the end of full bloom. They all came up and the ones that bloomed, bloomed in late June.  Not all bloomed.  I’m hoping that this year (2008) they will put on just a little more of a display, and by next year, be ready to “show” me something.
    Regards,
    Clay

    Clay Higgins
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  3. Edith Godfrey says:
    Bill and Peter,
    Thank you both for your positive comments and clarifications.  The spirit of your recent postings is very encouraging that we truly have a group of people dedicated to the expansion of our knowledge and the fostering of newer generations of people who will continue those efforts.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now–this group is such a refeshing contrast to some of the circumstances I face in other areas of my life (I’m trying to deal with a self-absorbed bully on a board of directors at work!!!).  Thank you for restoring my faith in people!!!!
    Edie Godfrey
    Minnesota–we’re back to seasonal normal temps–about 10 degrees F. below freezing. 1-3 inches of snow forecast for tonight & Thurs. 
  4. David Liedlich says:

    Dear Peter:

    The “stress” factor could have had something to do with increased flowering.  I do know that some plants will flower when they have been stressed, in an attempt to reproduce before a possible death.  I saw this a few years ago when I ordered some bare root apple trees.  The stress of being shipped bare root across the country induced flowering in these apple trees.  All of the trees have survived the ordeal, but I have yet to see another flower on any of them.

    Dave Liedlich
    Connecticut

  5. Sandra Stewart says:

    You’ve got it, Clay!
    Martha Anderson gave me the stock answer way back about 6 or 7 years ago –
    Just Plant ‘Em!
    Peter,
    Not trying a one-upmanship here, however, there doesn’t seem to be a stock answer to the replanting question, to include the cold to reset the bulbs.
    In the fall of 2006 I didn’t receive my order from an American supplier. With the intervention of some mutual friends, I received a shipment of about 20 bulbs in late April 2007. They were not the right bulbs, but bulbs are bulbs and I chose to call it even-steven and forget the whole matter.
    Anyway I planted them in my garden around the end of April 2007, in NC which is zone 8. There will be no cold weather in NC zone 8 which is the beach weather in NC. Instead of cold, it’s mostly time for shorts and T shirts. I planted them on the end of a bed that was already at the end of full bloom. They all came up and the ones that bloomed, bloomed in late June. Not all bloomed. I’m hoping that this year (2008) they will put on just a little more of a display, and by next year, be ready to “show” me something.
    Regards,
    Clay
    — Clay Higgins  title=
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  6. Clay Higgins says:

    Daffnet,
    As a matter of clarification, some private email to me suggested that when I said “even-steven” that I was referring to a certain daffodil supplier on the northwest USA coast, or as we say on the east coast, “The Left Coast.” However, the term “even-steven” comes from my childhood in the “Arkansas-Hills” when two friends would have a fairly serious argument, and once it was resolved into an “even” solution. Both would have to say the words “even-steven” and after that, you could be friends again.
    Let’s put it this way, this supplier was East of the Mississippi River and someone that I still consider a friend.
    Clay Clay E. Higgins (240) 632-0002 cell (301) 814-4206  title=

  7. Phyllis Hess says:

    Clay, I immediately knew what you meant; a favorite saying of my Grandpa’s and he wasn’t from Arkansas! Born and bred in central Ohio. I have hundreds of the old sayings, young people look at me weird all the time when I put one out there. (then sometimes I catch them using them as well) But I think the old sayings were far superior to the “F” word young ones are so fond of today!! Phyllis

  8. Donna Dietsch says:
    That’s funny Phyllis!  My kids keep saying that they are going to do a biography of me after I am dead, so that I can’t complain.  They are going to call it “Six of One and a Half Dozen of the Other, or, Mom’s Farm Sayings”.
    Donna Dietsch

    Phyllis Hess < title=> wrote:

    Clay,
    I immediately knew what you meant; a favorite saying of my Grandpa’s and he
    wasn’t from Arkansas! Born and bred in central Ohio.
    I have hundreds of the old sayings, young people look at me weird all the
    time when I put one out there. (then sometimes I catch them using them as
    well)
    But I think the old sayings were far superior to the “F” word young ones are
    so fond of today!!
    Phyllis

  9. Lina Burton says:

    Clay,

    Now that’s an interesting definition of “even-Stephen”. 

    Here in Virginia when I was growing up (many years ago), we girls had a totally different understanding of the expression.  Here, we considered it what we would do when we divided something evenly, or went “halvsies”.  Thus, if I got half of the last piece of apple pie and you got half, we’d “whack up”  “even Stephen”.  If I had $10 and gave you $5, we’d “whack up” “even Stephen”.  I still use the expression that way.  And, no, don’t ask me where the expression “whack up” came from!  We just used it this way.

    Lina

    **************
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  10. Clay Higgins says:

    Lina,
    One thing about those old saying is that they are a lot like daffodils, do stock definition for them.  Like when to plant. “halvsies” and “whack up” were saying that I used also.  Maybe Arkansas is not an island by itself on the left side of the Mississippi River.
    clay

    Clay Higgins
     title=

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