Video: Daffodil Harvesting | Tips & Recommendations from Johnny's

Daffodils: Planting & Harvesting Tips for Professional Results

I'm here in our daffodil trial, and I'm going to talk just a little bit about how we plant and harvest our daffodils.

When we plant our daffodils, we treat them as a perennial. That's a little bit different from tulips, which we treat as an annual. With daffodils, we plant and then harvest from them for several years. Part of why we're able to do that is that when you harvest a daffodil stem, you're able to harvest the entire stem without any of the leaves from the plant.

So when we harvest, we reach in, grasp the stem at the base of the plant, and pull, and it should pull out a nice long stem with a little bit of lighter white or green-colored stem. That's the part of the stem that's below the soil. But we're able to harvest this single stem without any leaves on it, whereas with tulips, when we pull out a stem, all the leaves and the bulb come with it. Because we're able to leave the leaves on the plant, daffodils are able to photosynthesize through the rest of the season and store up energy in the bulb and bloom again. They also tend to be a little bit hardier, in general, than tulips, so are, for that reason, reliable perennials in most zones.

Another thing that we do a little bit differently when we plant daffodils (versus tulips), is that we space the bulbs a little bit wider when we plant. You can see, this is a first-year planting. This variety is 'Dancing Moonlight'. You might be able to see that there's definitely space between the plants and the bulbs here. We've given these bulbs 2–3" of space between them because we expect those bulbs to expand and produce side bulbs over the next few years, and we want to give space for this planting to grow and fill out over the few years that we're going to be harvesting off of it.

Again, just a couple of the differences in the ways that we plant and harvest daffodils compared to tulips:

  1. With daffodils we space them a little bit more widely, to give them room to fill in.
  2. We also are able to harvest just the single stem without any of the leaves. This allows the plant to perennialize, and we're able to just leave the bulbs right in the ground.

I also want to say a few things about harvest stage for daffodils.

If you're looking for the longest vase life off of daffodils, what you want to do is harvest when the buds are just starting to show a little bit of color, or even starting to bend a little bit at the neck, called "goose-necking." This is the stage when you would harvest, if you want to store them in a cooler for a little bit of time, or if you are wanting to watch them unfold in a vase.

If you are not as concerned about the vase life or just want to enjoy them, you can harvest them at any any stage of openness. Just know that the more open they are in the field, the shorter vase life they will have, once you harvest them.

One more thing to know about harvesting daffodils is that the stems of the daffodils will exude a sap that can actually be harmful to other flowers. So when you're harvesting daffodils, it's best to put them all in a bucket by themselves, separate from other flowers, and to allow that sap to kind of drain out of the stems for a little bit, before mixing them in with other blooms.

Learn more about Narcissus…