It is a myth perpetuated by the Garden Centres that bulbs should be planted early. Research and experience has shown that the bulbs are best when planted when the soil temperature has dropped below 12C. In New Zealand this is at, or just after, Easter.
Planting: We recommend that bulbs are planted 20 cm deep to allow cooler soil through the summer. In poorly drained areas a handful of sand under the bulb is helpful. If you are naturalising the bulbs we suggest you plant them about 30 cm apart to allow for natural clumping to occur. It will take a couple of years for the display to mature. Planting the annulas ove the bulbs in summer is a good idea. If planting the bulbs in grass then plant them well away from the roots of trees and do not mow the grass before the leaves have died off naturally.
Food & Water: A touch of Dolomite or Lime is useful prior to planting. Begin watering in April and ensure heaps of water through August and September. Keep moist for 6 weeks after flowering as it is during this time that the bulb is fed to make next years flower. Potash is the only useful fertiliser for bulbs. This should be given every three weeks through August and September. Nitrogen encourages the bulbs to rot and should be avoided strenuously.
Pests: Apart from slugs and earwigs eating the flowers the only pest likely to both you os the Narcissus Bulb Fly. This brown fly, similar to a blow fly, lays eggs on the top of the bulbs during October and November. Either ensure the tops of the bulbs are covered with soil or sprinkle soil insect killer (diazanon) the bulbs.
For Canterbury growers we invite you to join the Canterbury Daffodil Circle. This friendly group of daffodil enthusiasts will give advice and encouragement in the growing and breeding of spring’s favourite flower.