We are under starter’s orders in garden centres for the best quality and range of daffodil bulbs. September is a great time to plant daffodils, and if we can get in there early, it ensures the best selection of bulbs will be available to buy. Daffodils need a garden soil of reasonable quality for the best flowering performance. Although they will naturalise in grass quite happily and will tolerate poor soils, a bed or border with good fertility will improve their flowering performance for that first year and beyond.
Over the years, I have found the large flower types, including the doubles, a little tricky when it comes to repeat flowering and offering a more naturalised look and feel to the garden. I find that they have more of a tendency to go blind (reluctant to flower in subsequent years) than some of the miniature and multi-stem types.
My other issue with some of the big hybrid daffodils is that they die back so disgracefully, and their big strappy foliage can look quite unsightly as it decays through May and early June. The miniature types, on the other hand, tend to have far more delicate, thinner foliage and behave more discreetly when they die down, and overall are less of an eyesore.
There are a couple of groups of daffodils that I would recommend trying. Daffodils are split into groups depending on their habit and their genetics; division six incorporates the cyclamineus group, which are very dwarf and can flower quite early compared with some of the larger types. February Gold, Jetfire and Tete-a-Tete are some of the most popular types, and rightly so, often producing a number of flowering stems from a single bulb.
Another group that I would suggest giving a try this year, and which are arguably my favourites, are the division eight daffodils, or the tazetta types. These are also known as florist daffodils and tend to be multi-headed, often with a good perfume. Cultivars such as Avalanche, Golden Dawn and Geranium are worth garden space; I grow these daffodils in pots to enjoy near the house, because during March and April, any splash of colour or hint of a fragrance is often most welcome. As a group, the more miniature daffodils are happy in pots and often give superb displays when grouped.
Let’s say that you take my advice and plant up a beautiful group of miniature daffodils for next spring. Once they’ve flowered, remove the spent flower heads to concentrate energy on the bulb, and then as the foliage begins to yellow, plant them in a sunny part of the garden, a little deeper than the top of the compost, and enjoy them for years to come.