Miss Floribunda: Extending the spring daffodil show
Dear Miss Floribunda,
My daffodils are pushing up some green shoots and I am so excited. I can hardly wait for them to bloom in April. They were in bloom when I first saw my house here and they just knocked my socks off. Even though the house was a fixer-upper I had to have it for the daffodils. Then, I learned that although the they give a great show, it doesn’t go on for long. Could I dig them up and replace them with some kind that can stay in bloom more than a two or three weeks? Would new flowers come out if I took off the dead ones? I guess I just want spring to last longer than it does. Tell me if it this is possible or not.
Daffy about Daffodils on Farragut Street
You can’t do anything to make your daffodils bloom any longer than they want to, but you can certainly extend the blooming season in general by choosing a variety of early, mid-season, and late-season cultivars and mix them together. It’s a good idea to dig up your bulbs from time to time because they multiply and can get overcrowded, but don’t throw them away. Spread them out and mix in bulbs that bloom at different times. You’ve heard of “succession planning”—well, gardeners practice “succession planting.” For example, you could mix in “February Gold” daffodils that will start blooming in late February in our area onto such double-flowered cultivars as “Cheerfulness,” which bloom into May.
You can extend the spring season if you plant other bulbs too: some with the daffodils; some in your lawn; others in beds by themselves. Here’s a rundown. Snowdrops, bright yellow winter aconite, and early crocus bloom in February. Later blooming crocus, iris reticulata, glory-of-the-snow, and hyacinths bloom in March. Grape hyacinths and species tulips, such as the lovely little “Lilac Wonder,” as well as the magnificent emperor tulips and some double tulips bloom in early April. Darwin, triumph and other tulips bloom in mid to late April. Parrot, fringed, lily and peony tulips bloom in late April and May. Spanish wood hyacinths, ornamental garlic, and Dutch iris extend the bulb season well into May and, if summer heat doesn’t come too early, even into June.
Bulbs are not the only spring flowers that you can use to lengthen this delightful season. My sister Primavera’s hellebore, which is called both Christmas and Lenten rose, do indeed bloom in December and re-bloom in February, keeping their blooms even under snow up until April. At the other end of the season, her easy-to-plant rhizomes for peonies and bearded iris produce spectacular results for her around Mother’s Day on till June. So it’s possible to enjoy spring flowers from February until just before the official beginning of summer. That’s a good long stretch.
To learn more about gardening and to get to know congenial gardeners, please come to the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society, Saturday, March 19 at 10 AM. We will be meeting at the Hyattsville Municipal Center in the all-purpose room on the ground floor.