When to plant daffodil bulbs – Best time to start planting ready for spring

Monty Don gives tips on planting daffodils in grass

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Daffodils are a vibrant addition to any garden during the spring and can be picked as a bright centrepiece for your table over the Easter period. Planting spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils is certainly a job for the end of summer so it’s important to start buying your bulbs and think about where you’d like them to flower in your garden. While we know daffodils reach full bloom in the spring, when is the best time to plant them?

When to plant daffodil bulbs

Daffodil bulbs are best planted in the late summer/ autumn time during the period between mid-August and the end of September.

It is important to time this right as these rich yellow flowers thrive in well-drained soil so keep an eye on the weather in August as a good judgement of when to start planting.

If, like this year, August is filled with wet and windy weather then you’re okay to start planting mid-month.

However, a late summer heatwave means it’s best to delay settling the bulbs until September or after some continual heavy rainfall.

Where to plant

Select a site that offers full sun or partial sun at the least. Daffodils will bloom best when given consistent exposure to the early spring sunshine.

Plant them anywhere in the garden where there is free drainage but be sure to avoid total shade and close proximity to south-facing walls.

These spring flowers make for a great pop of colour in beds and borders and are also well suited to naturalising in grass verges, lawn edges, hedgerows and banks.

Beds and borders

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to plant daffodils all you need is a spade and a spare five minutes.

Simply prise up the turf with a spade, place the bulbs underneath and then tread gently back down.

Pots and planters

Daffodils and other spring bulbs will grow well in any pot or planter so long as there is adequate drainage.

One way to encourage free drainage and air circulation is by placing fragments of broken pottery or stones in the bottom, so be sure to keep any unwanted pots and recycle them when it comes to planting your daffodils.

Use multi-purpose compost, water thoroughly and leave in a cool place until leaves appear.

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How to plant daffodils

Plant at twice the depth of the bulb, around four to six inches below the surface, keeping a four to eight inch distance between each bulb.


  • Potted bulbs can be planted much closer together but it is important to make sure they are not touching each other, or the sides of the container.

  • Layer up: bulbs can be layered with the latest flowering bloom at the bottom to create a dense and flowery spring pot display- this is what the Dutch call a ‘bulb lasagne’- the largest and latest flowering bulbs go in deepest, moving to the smallest and earliest in the top layer.

Looking after your spring-bulbs

Planting spring-flowering bulbs in the autumn leaves means your plant must battle cold, harsh winters before flowering in early spring.

Whilst daffodils are a hardy perennial and can survive most winter conditions, it is important to avoid root freeze during particularly cold spells.

Root freeze can kill the plant so it is best to huddle your pots for insulation, near a house wall to create natural warmth. Use one large length of protective material to protect all the plants to retain this heat.

To make sure your daffodils continue to flower year after year, allow the leaves to die back naturally for as long as possible before cutting off.

Bulbs can be lifted in June to August and stored in a cool dry place for replanting in the autumn.

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