Daffodils and Narcissi are undoubtedly among our most cherished and adored spring flowers and they form a large part of our collection of flowering bulbs. The cheery flashes of bright canary yellow along our roadsides and verges heralds the start of spring and tempts us with summery thoughts of the sunshine to come.
In the garden the amazing spectrum of varieties available means that there is a bloom for every scheme and every corner, brightening the outlook and lifting the doldrums of winter.
Whether planted into a border or naturalised in to grass they provide a wonderful splash of colour that with very little effort will return year after year.
Deadheading is the process of removing the bloom after flowering before the seed pod develops, using up most of the plants valuable energy sources. This means that more energy can go back into the bulb for next years display, as well as producing bulblets that in 2 – 3 years will mature into flowering plants.
It is not an essential measure, and on large areas of naturalised bulbs it would be quite a task! However, avoiding it will mean that these plantings may only flower well every few years.
On smaller areas in beds, borders and containers it means that you are guaranteed a lovely display of large healthy flowers every year as well as avoiding the rather unattractive and bedraggled appearance of the faded, browning bloom.
Tete a Tete, meaning 'head to head' in French - an apt
name for a daffodil bred for its abundance of flowers
It is important when deadheading your daffodils that only the flower head is removed, and this can be done by simply pinching out between finger and thumb or a quick snip with secateurs.
The foliage should be left intact because, like all bulbs, daffodils and narcissi need to let their foliage die back naturally so that all the energy can go back into the bulb and be stored there for next year, ready to make more beautiful blooms!
Interestingly, the stalk of the plant photosynthesises up to 3 or 4 times more than a single leaf, so it is really important that it be left to do its vital work rather than removing it at the base.
And now the age old question…what to do with all the unsightly browning leaves as they die off? Some people like to tidy them by tying them in a knot, or binding them with twine. Perhaps the most simple and low maintenance solution is to draw attention away from them with other closely planted perennials or shrubs that will hide the die back, and let them slowly get on with their business in peace!