Daffodils in MN. How to plant?

ssarde(3/4)October 6, 2005

I have been in MN 5 years now and had no luck with Daffodils. They never seem to come up and I find them squishy if I dig down. I have very sandy soil.

I think I am planting them at the wrong depth. I have been digging a hole about 6" deep and setting them in at that depth. How deep should the be for our winters? I live about 40miles north of St. Paul.

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I wonder if you are planting a variety that isn't hardy for our zone because 6 to 8 inches is the depth that I plant and with you having sandy soil it shouldn't be a drainage problem. Healthy bulbs from reliable grower are another recommendation. Check out the link below for descriptions of the various daffodil divisions and hardiness zone maps for each cultivar.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brent and Becky's

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 3:37PM
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digger_nd2(z3/4 ND)

I used to have the same trouble with daffodils not coming up in the garden. I now plant my daffodils in the fall (before the first of October) along the foundation of the house and cover them with a large bag of leaves for the winter. This has worked for me for the past two years.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 1:53PM
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I am a fellow bulb-loser despite having sandy soil and no trouble growing anything else. The advice I am getting is to water well in the fall and do not water much if at all in the summer. Also, I think that where I had them planted between my perennials and the stone edging of my beds was probably collecting water from melted snow and spring rains. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 8:59PM
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despite what others may think sany soil can be heavy. I have planted my daffodils in the native soil (sandy) and amended soil. I have had no luck in the native soil. I have found that they are unable to push through the heavy sand.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 2:41AM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

Yep- In my findings- sandy comacts very well! It also will hold melted snow turned to liquid on the surface layers- as the bottom layers are still frozen- hence winter rot. Some how adding peat and manure and planting in September to allow for initial growth before the winter's freeze all aid in a beautiful spring full of daffs. I was suprised to learn that most spring bulbs actually start to grow in the fall by sending out thick fat roots (they have a special name for those that care to retain that much info...) and pushing out the main growth just a titch. If bulbs are not allowed enough time to get through winter in this manner they have a reduced chance of making it- and if they do make it- they will spend alot of energy trying to get ready for next year.
That being said- I had better get planting the few bulbs I have to get in the ground- LATE again!
Aw- cmon Rick- what's the name of those fat roots? Why does it help the bulbs like frits and such through the winter? Cmon- tell us!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 11:58AM
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Greenthumb(Zone 5a, MN)

I spoke with the president of the MN Daffodil society earlier this year and she said that many of the daffodils sold in the local stores are NOT hardy for this area.

She also said that the bulbs need to get into the ground early so they can put out roots before the ground freezes and that will allow the bulb to survive the winter. If the bulb doesn't produce roots this fall, even if the bulb is hardy, the bulb will turn to mush during the winter.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:08PM
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Now that I've dug new beds for my bulbs, I can see how compacted the sand can get, especially the deep layer of pure builder's sand that is about 10 inches below my sandy topsoil! I am excavating down to 18 inches and replacing it with Letner's 1-1-1. Sound OK?

So, you're saying that right now is kind of late for planting daffodils in St. Paul? When should I have planted them -- I'll put it on my calendar for next year? It's not late for tulips, though, is it?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 11:47AM
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Up to mid-October should be fine, depending on the weather: Fall Planting Hardy Bulbs

Another good pub. for next year: Hardy Bulb Care After Bloom

Julie, do you mean contractile root? Good explanation and pictures here: scroll down to 2nd pair of pics

HTH. Happy planting!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 11:58AM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

Thanks Rebecca- but no- The name of that root is easy to remember because of the job it does is the same as the root- I was suprised to learn about those too- and that all bulbs dont come with them! No- there is a specific name to the fat fall roots- as opossed to the thin water roots the bulbs grow after active top growth has started. It is not nesessary to know it- I was just pokin' fun at Rick- he knows (or knew) the name...

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 2:22PM
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Thank you everyone. I think the sand and planting late have been the problems. I will plan better next year and look for local ones too!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 4:48PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Just poked around for Ian Young's hand out, and my notes from that lecture - didn't find 'em. Oh well. But I do know that daffs need to grow roots before winter, and in my opinion should be planted mid to end of September. If daffs are like Fritillaria, and these initial roots are not produced, NO roots will grow in spring. As Leave's link says, generally tulips and lilies (Lilium spp.) do not have to be planted in early fall, but will always do better, and . . .

Tulips species (as opposed to hybrids, and sometimes called botanical tulips) may actually need fall rooting. I don't know.
Tulip hybrids can be planted right up until ground freeze up.

Lilies will definitely do better with fall root establishment, and orientals and probably orientpets need to be established before winter. In fact, many lily society members prefer planting oriental lilies in spring because of winter difficulty, even in our zone 4. Remember the pickiness of martagons too, how they can actually remain dormant for a year after planting and come up the second year. Be sure to plant these as soon as you receive the bulbs. The less time they are out of the soil, the more probable the will emerge the first year. I have planted five different martagon species and cultivars, receiving them from friends here. Replanting within 3 days, they have never skipped a season.


P.S. An interesting sidenote I discovered this season: my Gladiolus atroviolaceus produces contractile roots also.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 5:18PM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

After reading all of the above do I plant the daffodil bulbs I have waiting unplanted? If not what do I do with them?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 8:08AM
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Greenthumb(Zone 5a, MN)

Yes, get them into the ground ASAP. You may even want to mulch the bed to keep the ground from freezing too soon. The mulch will help ensure that the bulbs have a chance to get their roots down this fall.
Good luck,

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 8:28AM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

And don't forget to water all those new plantings- bulbs- plants and trees till the ground freezes! They won't need as much as in the full heat of summer- but they do need moisture still!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 7:25PM
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beetleman(5 st louis)

I generally recommend planting the bulbs ASAP but in MN I would consider potting them in the basement and watering until spring- sparingly after a first soaking. Then outside in the spring. Plan to plant in September if it is cool enough (50 degrees) and water until hard freezes come- Plant division three and nine and whatever is proven- there are resources at the American Daffodil Society website

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 12:08AM
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I have planted daffys for years and love their bright little cups in the spring. I went through some rough years at first, like you. I tried all kinds of fancy hybrids and through money in their holes to no avail.

Finally, I found King Alfred daffys. Most places I plant them they come up - mind you I have put in soil over clay - it was suppose to be a foot, but I think it is more like 6". Once I finally found one that worked, I quit throwing money down the tube with any more searching.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 3:55PM
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beetleman(5 st louis)

I called my friend in Minneapolis- lots of leaves- my 1000s are blooming out very quickly in this heat(*80's), might want to note that King Alfred is not available- most of the ones you see are KA'type' and Carlton- one of the king alfred 'types" seems to do very well most places- even here near St Louis

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 3:30PM
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