How to Grow Daffodils

Yellow hearty daffodils with orange blooms

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

In This Article

Hearty daffodils are one of the easiest and most popular spring bulbs to grow. Though typically associated with the characteristic sunny yellow bloom, there are actually more than 40 species and over 32,000 registered cultivars or hybrids of daffodils.

Native to areas of Europe and North Africa, daffodils are best-planted in mid-to-late autumn and will begin to rear their heads in early spring, reaching peak bloom about a month after the final frost. If properly cared for, the bulbs of the daffodil can be replanted for enjoyment for years to come. Sometimes, they abruptly stop blooming, a condition called going "blind." It may be an insect problem, too much shade, or perhaps they have moved too far down in the soil and need to be lifted.

Botanical Name Narcissus
Common Name  Daffodil, narcissus
Plant Type  Bulbous perennial
Mature Size  6–30 in. tall, 6–12 in. wide 
Sun Exposure  Full sun, partial shade
Soil Type  Rich, moist but well-drained
Soil pH  Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time  Spring
Flower Color Yellow, white, orange, red, pink
Hardiness Zones 4–8 (USDA) 
Native Area Europe, North Africa
Toxicity Toxic to dogs and cats

Daffodil Care

All things considered, daffodils are a great entry-level plant for novice gardeners to try flexing their green thumb with. When selecting which daffodil bulbs to plant, choose ones that have a large, firm shape with a dry papery covering. Plant the bulbs pointed end up, about three to five inches deep and equally as spaced apart—they'll look especially great set in rows lining pathways or garden beds. Daffodils will not bloom more than once in a season, so once you notice the petals fading, allow the foliage to turn yellow and dry up. At that point, you can dig up the bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place before you're ready to re-plant them come fall.

Tazetta daffodil with orange and white flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Double daffodil with yellow and red petals

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Cyclamineus daffodil with white petals and yellow cup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova


Daffodils will thrive best when planted in full sun, though they can withstand a bit of partial shade or dappled light. If you are contending with a shadier spot, aim to plant your bulbs angled to the area that gets the most light—once bloomed, the flowers will grow towards the sun, so doing so will ensure you get forward-facing blooms.


Daffodil plants prefer a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH of around 6.0. They thrive in rich, moist soil but, as with most bulbs, they require excellent drainage or they will rot. Since daffodils can survive for years, you will want to find a spot to plant them where they will not sit in waterlogged soil.


Daffodils like to be watered regularly in the spring and fall. If there is no snow cover, the corms will also need to be watered throughout the winter. Stop watering about three to four weeks after the flowers fade—they go dormant during the summer and prefer a drier soil. Bonus: drier soil will make it easier for you to remove them from the soil and store until fall.

Temperature and Humidity

Daffodil hardiness will vary slightly with varieties and exposure, but most daffodils are reliable within USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. Most daffodils need a cold period to set roots (which is why they're typically planted in autumn), but certain divisions of daffodils will grow in warmer climates, especially if given sufficient water. Overall, daffodils do not need any added humidity.


Daffodils are pretty self-sufficient, but if you have poor soil or the plants are not flowering as much as they should, top dress with bulb food or bone meal when the leaves first emerge. Lightly feed again when they flower.

Daffodil Varieties

There are 13 different types of daffodils (with many cultivars within each division), all differentiated based on the form of the flower. They include:

  • Trumpet: The Trumpet daffodil boasts a center cup at least as long as its petals, with one bloom per stem.
  • Large-cupped: The cup on this daffodil variety is more than one-third the length of the petals, but not as long as them, with one bloom per stem.
  • Small-cupped: As the name implies, the cup on this varietal is no more than one-third the length of the petals, with one bloom per stem.
  • Double: This daffodil varietal features clustered cups and petals, with one or more blooms per stem.
  • Triandrus: The flowers on the Triandrus daffodil have a hanging bell shape, usually boasting two or more blooms per stem.
  • Cyclamineus: This daffodil varietal features swept-back petals and one bloom per stem.
  • Jonquilla: The Jonquilla daffodil has small, fragrant flowers with flat petals and narrow leaves. Typically, you'll see one to five blooms per stem.
  • Tazetta: Fragrant clusters of florets dot the Tazetta daffodil, with anywhere from three to 20 blooms per stem. The leaves and stem are also broader than usual.
  • Poeticus: Pure white petals surround a flattened, crinkled cup on the Poeticus daffodil. Its cups generally have green centers circled in yellow and rimmed with red, and one fragrant bloom per stem.
  • Bulbocodium: This daffodil varietal features small petals and a "hoop petticoat" shaped cup.
  • Split-cupped: The cup on this varietal is split open, usually at least halfway.
  • Miscellaneous: These do not fit into other categories, including inter-division hybrids.
  • Species, wild variants, and wild hybrids
  • Miniature: These have the same features as their full-size counterparts but have smaller blooms, usually less than 2 inches in diameter.
Trumpet daffodils with yellow flowers on stems

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Large cupped daffodil with white flowers closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Small cupped daffodil with yellow and orange flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Double daffodil with yellow flowers and green leaves

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Triandrus daffodil with white flowers and yellow hanging bells

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Cyclamineus daffodil with yellow swept-back flowers and orange bell

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Jonquilla daffodil with yellow and white flat flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Tazetta daffodil with white flowers and yellow cluster

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Split-cupped daffodil with orange flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Potting and Repotting Daffodils

Daffodils can grow well in containers for up to three years if the pot is deep enough for their roots to fill out. To successfully plant daffodils in containers, follow these easy steps:

  1. Choose a pot that is about 2 gallons for standard daffodils and 1 gallon for small bulbs or miniature daffodils. Make sure your chosen pot has drainage holes.
  2. Fill the container about two-thirds of the way with potting mix.
  3. Disperse the bulbs in the pot—close, but not touching—so that their points are just below the rim of the pot.
  4. Lightly cover the bulbs with soil and water well.
  5. Move the container to a cool, dark spot where the temperature remains steadily around 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 16 weeks.
  6. Water whenever the soil feels dry.
  7. After the chilling period and yellow shoots emerge, move the container to a sunny but cool spot (around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and continue watering.
  8. When the shoots turn green, the container can be moved into brighter sunlight (around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Continue watering whenever the soil feels dry and be sure to turn the containers to promote even growth.
  9. Top dress with a handful of fertilizer or bone meal.
  10. When the leaves die off, place the pot on its side and let it dry out. Then start all over again.
  11. Potted daffodil bulbs can bloom for two to three years in the container, but will do better if you move them to a spot in the ground and pot up fresh bulbs each year.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Easy, Dependable, Beautiful Daffodils - a Sure Sign of Springtime's Arrival. Penn State Extension.

  2. Narcissus. Missouri Botanical Garden.