THE FIRST URGENT QUESTION asked on our new Urgent Garden Question Forums was truly the crisis of the moment: “My daffodil leaves are lush and green this year but I have a total of three that have buds/blooms. (This is out of about 70 bulbs in a garden bed.) Could it be over the last several years of wonderful blooms they have just exhausted themselves? Could they possibly now be buried too deep? (I did add several inches of soil/compost last fall.)”—Kenn What causes sparse flowering, as in the photo above?
When flowering plants don’t bloom well it’s usually an issue of either not enough light; too much Nitrogen (which makes green, not flowers) or not enough of the nutrients they need because of competition with other plants; or overcrowding. But I wanted to look it up and get more info, because I had always thought my daffodil drifts were “forever.” And forever just came to an end, apparently.
ALL OF THOSE REASONS, AND MORE
The American Daffodil Society website confirms that any/all of the above can be the culprit, as can a soggy location; cutting off the foliage too early before the bulb ripens; an early heatwave the previous spring that similarly prevented ripening; and a few more remote possibilities like viruses.
So I’ve been outdoors this morning examining my many drifts of non-blooming narcissus, versus the clumps that are performing well, to figure out who needs what from me. All the while I was hoping against hope the answer isn’t “overcrowding,” because with thousands of bulbs, I cannot imagine how they’re all going to get lifted, divided, replanted.
The ADS says to divide every three to five years, meaning many of my drifts are 10 years overdue. (Do I see any A Way to Garden volunteers stepping forward to participate in The Big Dig?)
I’m going to try feeding, but with an all-natural organic food that I know won’t be an instant answer. I’ve pruned the apple trees that some of the worst-performing clumps were under, to let in more light. I will water well while the bulbs are up and growing because I know the tree roots are depriving the bulbs of needed moisture—another reason bulbs fail.