With the early warm spring, Marion County blooms with early flowering plants, including many sunny varieties of daffodils.
Margaret Harris of Marion knows a few things about daffodils. In a single year, she planted as many as 3,000 bulbs of the flowers. Daffodils are very hardy flowers that thrive here.
“They can survive for many years with no care,” Harris said. “They can be found in fence rows on old farmsteads where no one has lived for 60 years or more. However, they become so crowded that very few bloom, and the blooms are small.
“For optimal bloom, they should probably be dug and divided every three to five years,” she said.
This is the time of year to prepare if planning to dig up bulbs to transplant elsewhere. A light sprinkling of fertilizer and water will lead to more and bigger bulbs, Harris said. The tops should be allowed to dry naturally and without being mowed under before digging them up during the summer.
After bulbs are dug up, they should dry under a shade tree before being stored in a dry ventilated space.
“Cardboard flats work well,” Harris said. “The bulbs tend to attract moisture, so plastic containers are not recommended as the bulbs will rot.”
Any time in the fall is fine for replanting, as long as the ground is suitable to be worked. Daffodils should be planted 4 to 6 inches deep. Old post hole diggers work fine, Harris said.
“Plant a dozen or so in a round hole for a bouquet effect,” she said.
She recommended planting daylilies along with daffodils, because they bloom later and hide the dying foliage of daffodils.
With daffodils’ hardiness, there can be several options to get free bulbs with a little bit of work, Harris said. As she said, many uninhabited farm sites have overcrowded daffodil patches, but she emphasized the need to get owners’ permission before digging up bulbs.
“There is no such thing as an abandoned farm site,” Harris said. “Someone still owns this property. If you see flowers you might like to propagate, find out who owns this land and get permission to relocate the plants.”
It is also possible to get bulbs by helping friends, relatives, or neighbors who have patches of daffodils that are overcrowded.
“It is a benefit for both parties, as the blooms will be better for the original planting, and you will have a supply of bulbs,” Harris said.
Assuming the bulbs received are small, she recommends planting them in rows that will be easy to dig the next year after they’ve grown.
Harris has been interested in flowers for as long as she can remember.
“My mother had me planting flowers when I was a very small child,” she said.
Harris said anyone can keep a small bed of perennial flowers looking nice with as little as one hour of watering, weeding, and doing other tasks a week.
In addition to daffodils, other flowers that do very well in the area include daylilies, black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, sedums, peonies, and hydrangeas, she said. Any perennials available this time of year are good to plant now.