Keith Kridler, Texas

soil infertility and short stems

March 11, 2009
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Categories: Fertilizing, Growing Daffodils, Planting, Soil

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If you kept my photos and posts from this past spring about my applying a thin strip of pure nitrogen fertilizer across these rows of daffodils then skipping an area and applying another strip of fertilizer then here is the follow up photos. The gap in these rows (4 feet wide plantings) that you see right in the middle of the photo is the area I did NOT fertilize. Again we often believe that for plants to bloom you do NOT add nitrogen.
Michael Kuduk mentioned that he was thinking about going out and applying 10-10-10 to his short stemmed daffodils. Donna Dietsch followed up that fertilizer would NOT lengthen the stems. I think it would depend on the soil being tested that Michael’s daffodils are being grown in.
Nitrogen creates more leaf growth. The plant leaves then are exposed to the sun and the plants manufacture food during photosynthesis that the plant then moves through out it’s vascular system to feed the rest of the plant. Without leaves and sunlight a plant will starve to death no matter what kind of soil it is growing in.
This area of our land has a PH of 4.5 and according to soil analysis tests this past winter the soil contained only 1 part per million nitrogen in the soil before I added these thin bands of fertilizer.
When looking at the photo notice the height of the blooms and stems on each side of this gap. Notice the color of the foliage and even the weeds that picked up the extra nitrogen to the right and left of the area I skipped.
It is appearing from these photos that a lack of nitrogen in the soil and lack of rainfall this spring would have most of these rows of daffodils that are absorbing their blooms or failing to put up a bloom stalk in the areas where I did not fertilize these Golden Dawn.
AGAIN I am NOT advocating going out willy nilly and tossing fertilizer of ANY kind on your valuable daffodils!!! This area of our property is going to be part of a three year study where we bring up the soil PH to about a 6.2 and slowly bring up the soil micro and macro nutrients more in line with what we think daffodils will thrive in.
It would appear to me that had I NOT added a tiny amount of nitrogen to these strips this year that I would have had little to no bloom as of yesterday. I am going to send a couple more shots and some other thoughts on this experiment. Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

One response to “soil infertility and short stems”

  1. Donna Dietsch says:
    Yes, Keith, I do understand that some of the time some soils will have  less nitrogen than other soils.  However, most people do not plant in fields loke yours that, as you have mentioned before, are sometimes lacking in nutrients.  So, it is quite likely that your daffodils will respond to more nitrogen with  better length.  Also, and it is a big also, you mention that these daffodils that were  given extra nitrogen were ‘Golden Dawn’.  That is a tazetta, or more accurately a poetaz, which grows for me with 20 inch stems and nearly 2 foot leaves, with little added nutrients.  Now, show me the same situation with something that has normally average length stems and leaves.  Then use that as an argument for adding nitrogen for stem and leaf length.  Those leaves would not be as long as the Golden Dawn in your photos and would not show such a spectacular length.
    I will still maintain that the weather will play a large part in stem length at the beginning of the season.  If it is cold and then quickly warms up you will find short stems and short leaves.  This has nothing to do with fertilizer or no fertilizer or nitrogen or no nitrogen.  It is just a result of a quick warm up.  When the weather goes to normal, the plants will respond normally. In one out of three seasons, my flowers will be short at the beginning of the season.
    I base this on 33 years of observation of the daffodils that I grow and enjoy observing. I believe you’ve been growing for that long, too and I have tremendous respect for your breadth of knowledge which surpasses most people’s in most cases. We both have years of observation behind us.  But I also maintain that the fellow who wrote in and lives in Kentucky has climate conditions more closely aligned to my growing conditions here in Central Ohio than to yours in NE Texas and probably his soil does not need a drastic increase in any particular nutrient.
    All things being equal, weather plays a larger part in stem length at the beginning of the bloom season than any other factor.  That’s all I am saying.
    Donna