Bill Carter, Washington

Successful planting of Daffodil Seeds

January 11, 2008

Categories: Bulb Information, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Planting, Seeds

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I have been pollinating dafodils sucsessfully, planting and getting 1st year starts quite sucsessfully.
I typically plant 10-20 seeds in a 4″ pot in a potting mix.
The second year the moss takes over and my 2nd year plants seem to disappear. What am I doing wrong?
Should I be planting seeds directly outside in a bed? When? in the summer, fall or spring?
I live in Bellingham WA so we have good weather for bulbs, an plenty of winter rain.

5 responses to “Successful planting of Daffodil Seeds”

  1. Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio Mary Lou Gripshover says:

    Like you, I’m an amateur hybridizer. While I’ve been planting seeds for many years, the percentage of seed that makes it to bloomng size is small. I doubt the moss is keeping your 2nd year plants from growing, but you might prevent the moss by topping the pots with granite grit (sold in feed stores). Or maybe you need to use one of the fungicides that prevent damping off of seedlings. What kind of potting mix are you using? I use about half granite grit and half Pro-Mix these days, and I plant as soon as the seed is ripe. I now use a liquid fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.
    I live in Ohio, where the winter temperature can go below zero F, and so I’ve always planted in pots and, until recently, sunk the pots in a coldframe over the winter. The last few years I’ve been using a garden cart which comes into the garage when it gets really cold here.
    Like you, I get pretty good first year germination, but it drops off in succeeding years. But that’s ok, I wouldn’t have room to plant them all out after the second or third year anyway. 🙂 I think it has more to do with how my pots are treated over the summer. Left outside to get the summer rains with accompanying heat may promote rot. So the last few years, the cart has stayed in the garage over the summer, completely dry. Well, if I remember, I give them a bit of water from time to time. Seeds planted in 2005, 2006, and 2007 have gotten this treatment, so it will be interesting to see how many bulblets there are to plant out after this growing season.
    This is how I do it, but remember my climate may be nothing like yours. A different climate could make a big difference. There are lots of experts on Daffnet, and I look forward to hearing what they have to say as well.
    Mary Lou Gripshover Cincinnati, Ohio

  2. Sandra Stewart says:


    Hi William
    It’s great to hear that you’re planting seed to get new daffodils for us to all see later!
    They published an article I wrote in the ADS Daffodil Journal one time about my seed planting methods, but right now I can’t remember when that was.
    I’ve never personally had any luck growing anything here in pots except miniatures – my being blessed with good, open soil on an old farm and always taking the easy road is responsible for that. When I do plant in pots, I don’t use potting soil, but just dig up soil out of the yard and sink the pots in the hole.
    I have had wonderful success just planting daffodil seeds out in the open. I noticed that sometimes it takes several years for some of them to come up. Or maybe those are seeds off my seedlings?
    I don’t know what kind of soil you have, but I always planted mine on a spot where I had just removed a compost pile…it’s bare and soft and fertile. I usually kept my daffodil seeds in paper envelopes in the house until late fall for several reasons. That way they have a chance to dry out and you can immediately see which ones are still viable. I guess you could plant them immediately and get more seedlings, but we don’t get enough rain here in summer and I don’t water anything with tap or well water. I always try to mulch the bed down with something…I prefer pine straw…so am always adding to the soil activitity.
    I will say that I lost most of my seedlings a couple of years ago when I felt I had to dig them up to divide them, it was too late in the year, the soil was too warm and I had to water them with a soaker hose to dig in that spot. It’s all hard as concrete here in summer…and I didn’t know it but this drought was approaching – I would have left them alone for another year. Practically all of them rotted immediately and I gave the survivors unlabeled to a friend to plant at Weldon Childer’s church in Carbon Hill. I’ve attached a pic of one of the departed!
    I have a lot of moss here under deep shade of oak trees, but I don’t plant daffodils there since our moss grows on forest type soil which is hardpan most of the year and the soil’s nutrients are pretty much taken up by the nearby trees.
    Perhaps someone could comment on the conditions moss requires? Would you have to know which kind of moss it is?
    I would think it meant too much moisture, not enough sunlight or ph conditions? I lost my favorite patch of moss, also, when a shear wind blew down my favorite pecan tree. The bright side to that is now I have a great new place to plant more daffodils closer to my house and don’t have to fight tree roots or pecan seedlings 😉
    Hope this helps…Sandra


  3. Larry Force says:
    Hello William,
    My first thought is with that much moss in one year maybe your media is not well drained enough. Are the pots protected from hot sun in the summer after the foliage has died down? Heat and moisture are the friends of bulb rot. How cold does it get there in the winter? Unprotected one year small bulbs in small pots could be freezing out. I plant in the ground as it’s very hard to keep daffodils alive here in pots due our hot, wet, humid summer time climate.
     Plant seeds soon after they are mature. I collect the seeds as pods are mature, let them dry out in cups or other small containers for a few days and store in small plastic bags until I can get them planted. Easy to mark parentage on bags with Sharpie. I like to get planted by late June or at least by July. By planting early most all will germinate the next spring. Can get anywhere from 25 to 95 percent germination. It depends a lot on the cross. Most of the time from 50 to 90 percent. I plant in raised beds made from 4 x 4 treated timbers. Soil mix is appx. 40 to 50 percent sand  and woodland soil. I plant in the open strawberry baskets that are 4 x 4 by 2.5 inches deep. Easy to keep track of the small bulbs this way. I will usually plant 10 to 20 seeds per basket. Miniature seeds are planted 1/2 to 3/4 inches deep and standards 1 inch deep.  Miniature seedlings will usually bloom in the baskets in 3 to 4 years if not too crowded.  Standards need to be lifted and transplanted out about the second to third year. I am certainly an amateur but this procedure has worked for me so far as I now have more seedlings than I can say grace over. Have got to slow down on making crosses, too much work later on. I live in north Mississippi, zone 7. Winter temps can get down to single digits but that is very rare. Hasn’t been below 10 to 14 degrees in several years. Normally 30 to 50, nighttime temps sometimes in the 20’s. Summer temps, days 90 to 100. Nights still in the 80’s.
    Others may do it differently, this procedure probably wouldn’t work in colder areas. It works for me in my area. Hope this helps you.
    Lots of bulbociums in bloom now, Lots of miniature 6’s and some 1’s, especially if asturiensis is in the parentage are showing buds now. Looks like an early season here if we don’t get some cooler weather.
    Larry Force
  4. Donna Dietsch says:
    I do a method very much like Larry does.  I live much farther north, in central Ohio.  I have used the berry baskets since1987 and find that they work best if I put a small square of netting in the bottom.  My seedlings try to exit out of the bottom of the basket since they are smaller than the holes.  It makes a nice tidy bed and then I make a map of squares and put the cross number on a plastic label on each pot and the cross on my map.  I also make a list of the crosses in numerical order.  I don’t have quite the germination rate that Larry has, probably due to the colder weather here, but as, he says we do too many crosses in any case.  I always hope a few die before I have to dig up the pots.  I also plant right away after the seeds ripen.  My theory, told to me by other more illustrious breeders, is to plant the seed when the plant plants them.  The pods open and scatter the seeds on the ground in June.  Plant the seed then.  As Larry says, you will get better germination then.  I think that the seeds do not dessicate if you have them in the ground.  I water sparingly during the summer and then frequently, if no rain, in the fall.  Seems to work, so far.
    Donna Dietsch
  5. Chriss Rainey says:

    What kind of netting do you use?  Is it regular fabric net or something else?