Daffodils are an excellent way to add springtime color to your southern Utah garden with minimal effort. Sounds great, right? Well, it is. You want the right bulbs for St. George’s short and mild winter climate, and you’ll want to plant them at the right time, give them some food, and use an appropriate tool to plant them. Simply plant daffodils in southern Utah during the fall for easy spring flowers!
I am a daffodil lover and plant them almost exclusively. Why? Because they bloom reliably every year in St. George. Daffodils come in many varieties. Yellow, orange, pink, and white blooms are available. There are giant five-inch trumpets, double bloomers, miniatures, and fragrant varieties as well. Different daffodils will bloom at different points during the spring. Most websites that sell bulbs as well as and packaging will designate what gardening zone is appropriate for certain daffodil varieties. St. George is located in USDA zone eight. To find your specific zone, click here and enter your zip code in the box on the left.
For optimal blooms, daffodils require a thorough chilling period. When you buy daffodil bulbs, they are usually pre-chilled. However, you must keep them chilled until it is really cold outside … well, cold for us, anyway. If you plant them right away, our lovely fall weather will confuse the bulbs and they may start to grow. To avoid this, you must keep them chilled. Put the daffodil bulbs in your fridge until after Thanksgiving, but do not store them near apples. Apples emit ethylene gas, which will ripen your bulbs. Believe me when I say that you do not want ripe bulbs. The weather always turns cold around Thanksgiving. Then it will be safe to plant, and your bulbs will sleep safely in the ground until spring. Daffodil bulbs will naturally chill each winter once they are planted in the ground and do not require any special treatment to bloom each spring.
All bulbs prefer well-draining soil in a sunny location. Add compost for organic matter and sand if you require more drainage in your soil. To plant your daffodil bulbs, I recommend using a bulb planter with a releasable handle. They make planting bulbs a cinch and can be found at most garden centers for a reasonable price. Plant each bulb four to six inches deep, pointy side up, and four to six inches apart. Alternatively, you may choose to plant your bulbs all together. Simply dig a hole four to six inches deep and wide enough to give each bulb some room. Put many bulbs in the hole and cover with soil. I also recommend using some bulb food or other high-phosphorous fertilizer. When you see the numbers on the container of fertilizer (3-12-5), choose one with a higher middle number. That indicates the percentage of phosphorous per pound of fertilizer. Phosphorous will promote root growth and flower growth, which is perfect for bulbs. Apply the fertilizer according to label directions. Water thoroughly after planting your bulbs but only occasionally after that.
After your daffodils have bloomed, you may remove the spent flower and stem. However, do not remove the leaves. The leaves should be allowed to remain in your garden until they turn yellow and die back naturally. This ensures that the bulb in the ground absorbs much needed nutrients from the leaves to grow larger and produce robust and beautiful blooms in the spring. It tends to look a little messy, so I tolerate it as long as possible. When I can stand the yellow drooping leaves no longer, I cut and remove them.
There you have it. Spring-blooming daffodils in southern Utah can be easily planted in the late fall and bloom every spring for many years. I don’t think gardening gets any simpler than that. So find a bulb catalog or website and place an order, or go to your local garden center to find some amazing daffodils to bring you joy with minimal effort! Yay for daffodils and easy spring gardening!