The bright, cheerful flowers of the daffodil – also known as the jonquil or narcissus – can make a colorful addition to any garden. With a little care and planning, these low-maintenance plants can provide beautiful blooms all summer long. Knowing how to fertilize daffodil plants will ensure that your daffodil bulbs stay healthy and vibrant for years to come.
When to Fertilize
The best times to fertilize daffodils are once in the fall and once again in the spring. In the fall, you should fertilize before the first hard frost with a slow-release fertilizer. This will nourish the roots during their autumn period of rapid growth, and will preserve the bulb during the winter months. In the spring, a water-soluble fertilizer is best as it will provide rapid nutrient release for the blooming season.
What Kind of Fertilizer to Use
Daffodils prefer a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and higher in phosphorous and potassium (potash). A high-nitrogen fertilizer will prevent the daffodil from blooming. An ideal nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium ratio for use in the spring is 5-10-10. In the fall a fertilizer with a higher potassium ratio, such as a 5-10-12 or 10-10-20, will help promote root growth.
How to Apply Fertilizer
Organic and slow-release fertilizers should be broadcast onto the soil surface, then covered with a layer of mulch that will protect the soil from nutrient loss due to erosion and runoff. Quick-release fertilizers used during the spring should be mixed into the soil and watered thoroughly to promote nutrient release. It is important to prevent the fertilizer from coming in direct contact with the roots or leaves, as the fertilizer can cause them to burn.