Michael and Lisa Kuduk, Kentucky

Short stems and small flowers

March 10, 2009

Categories: Daffodil Types, Growing Daffodils, Miniatures

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That seems to be the order of the day here in central Kentucky.
We have had warm temperatures (with a lot of wind) for about a week now, so foliage is up and flowers are starting to form. Right now the only daff in bloom is Tete-a Tete, and unfortunately the stem is 3 inches tall, sporting undersized flowers. In perusing the rest of my garden, a lot of the developing flowers seem to be on short stems as well. This is true in both new beds planted last September, and in existing, healthy beds. I’m seeing some burnt, frostbit foliage on certain varieties as well.
We had a dry summer, but rainfall picked up in October, and was normal for the rest of the winter. The biggest weather issue was the cold weather. Here we hit freezing close to November 1, and, until last week, we have had only a handful of days in the 40’s. We had a major ice storm at the end of January and were without power for a week. Following that ice storm, there were two periods of intensely cold weather (for us, no snickering from the Canadians and Minnesotans) where it got down to 0 or below at night, with a 60 degree day sandwiched in the middle.
Is there anything I can do? I can probably throw some 10-10-10 down and keep things watered, but since this seems to be a garden-wide phenomenon, I think it has a lot to do with last year’s winter.
Mike Kuduk Winchester, KY

2 responses to “Short stems and small flowers”

  1. Donna Dietsch says:
    Keep up the watering, Michael.  The first few may be smaller than normal, but the rest will catch up as the season progresses.  They’ll get better.
    Fertilizer can be applied but that will not lengthen the stems.  Water well after applying so that the fertilizer does not burn the tender new foliage.
    Columbus Ohio

  2. Edith Godfrey says:

    Mike, here in Minnesota we will have entire seasons of daffodils with “short” stems and small flowers. If anyone has seen the mammouth flowers good growers in the middle atlantic and northwest coastal states can grow, ours are wimpy by comparison. Maybe Mike Berrigan knows more of the seasonal reasons for this–the exact timing of the cold relative to when the flower starts to emerge from the bulb. You may see more normal flowers on later divisions. We know that cold can cause greening on the backs of Div 4s and farther south, div 4’s will blast more easily. Heck, we can’t even get bulbocodiums to grow and tazettas mostly only in indoor pots! Edie Godfrey Minnesota In middle of a major winter snow storm with temps falling below 0 F. by tomorrow night. Spring won’t arrive until mid-April.