Friday, April 4th, 2008...7:23 am

Flopping Daffodils


TheGardenLady received this question from Shelly:

My daffodils have grown, but after a few days, they fall over, should I put some bone meal in the soil? I have Tulips and day lillies in the same bed, around a tree.

If your plants look healthy, no diseases on them, there are a few reasons that your plants are falling over.  Daffodils can be blown over by strong winds or if there are heavy rains, the rain can make the leaves and flowers flop over.

But generally, the reason the leaves and flowers of outdoor planted bulbs flop over is because of the planting depth. Planting depth and spacing are very important to the success of bulbs.

Usually when you buy bulbs, the package tells you how deep to plant. However, if there were no instructions, a general rule of thumb for planting depth (from top of bulb to soil surface) is two to three times the greatest diameter of bulbs 2 inches or more in diameter and three to four times the greatest diameter for smaller bulbs.

Bulb Planting Depth
Always make sure that you plant bulbs to the recommended depth.  If you plant bulbs too deep their shoots may not reach the surface If you plant them too high they will topple over once they begin to grow. So TheGardenLady suspects that you planted your bulbs too shallowly.

When you planted the bulbs last fall, you should have amended the soil. Some sources recommend digging a hole 12 to 18 inches deep and checking to see if there is good drainage before putting in some rotted horse manure in the bottom of the hole, then covering the manure with at least 2 inches of soil to separate the base of the bulb from the manure. Spread soil with a generous sprinkling of bone meal. Cover bone meal with approximately 6 inches of good topsoil (without manure) and set the bulbs on this. Finally cover bulbs with any fairly good friable soil.

This year you may have to stake the daffodils to keep them upright. If you also planted the lilies and tulips too shallowly, you may have these plants flop over; so you may have to stake them, also.  Bone meal should not be put on top of soil, no top dressing. It should only have been put near the roots at the time you planted the daffodils because today’s bone meal is not the same as the bone meal that was used long ago.

If you decide to dig up your bulbs to plant them at a proper depth, you should wait until the fall after the daffodil leaves die. If you do not  want to dig up the bulbs this fall after the  leaves die, try adding some more good topsoil on top of the ground where the bulbs were planted to give them more depth when they come up next spring. This isn’t the best solution because the soil may wash off with heavy rains. It is worth a try if you hate the idea of replanting bulbs just one year later. But eventually, to get good flowering and no flopping, you will have to dig up and replant your bulbs the proper depth.

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    If you want to give your young gardeners an experience they will never forget, consider having them grow a TickleMe Plant. This is the plant that will close its leaves and lower its branches when you tickle it. They sprout in days and can be grown indoors any time of year. Just Google TickleMe Plants or go to for seeds and growing kits. This plant has turned many kids into plant and nature lovers. I know, because I grow TickleMe Plants in my classroom. Your children may never look at plants in the same way and neither will you!
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