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Daffodil foliage - finally!

  • Daffodil foliage - finally!

Yes folks, it's finally mid June (although you wouldn't believe it if you looked out of the window) and at long last it's time to pull up that old daffodil foliage.

Most of us are, by now, thoroughly sick and tired of lank, browning foliage flopping all over the newly-emerging perennial plants, making the garden look a mess, and preventing us from cutting the grass properly, not to mention providing shelter and a running buffet for slugs and snails.

But as we all know, if you cut the foliage off too soon, it will adversely affect the flowering next year: daffodils need this time to use their leaves to store up energy in their underground bulbs, which will then be used next spring to produce flowers. If you cut off the foliage too soon, they don't have time to make and store that energy, and you will be disappointed next year.

You should never “cut off” daffodil foliage anyway: you should always leave it until it is ready to slide out of the bulb by itself.

In fact, when people ask me to dig out stray daffodils that are in the “wrong place” or where a clump of them in the grass is spoiling the lawn effect, I just tell them to simply mow over them as soon as they appear - or to cut the emerging foliage off with scissors as soon as it gets higher than the grass. After two years of this treatment, they will never be seen again. This shows how important it is for bulbs to be allowed to hold on to their leaves until they are ready to lose them.

So how do you know if your daffs really are “over” for the year?

Well, in autumn, trees lose their leaves. They just drop off. In a similar way, but upside down, in late spring, the bulbs lose their leaves: being upside down, they can't actually drop off, so all we have to do is tug gently on the foliage. If it comes out easily, then they are ready. If the green leaf won't come out, or if - heinous crime - you find yourself holding a leaf with a bulb attached to it, then they are definitely NOT ready!

There is no shortcut: if we want spring flowers next year, then we have to give them time to prepare themselves for their dormant period, without hurrying them along.

So be patient, tug gently, and let them take their own time!

Comments (1)

  1. Grower

    Jim Edwards

    Yes always good advise from Rachel, but not all are growing in cultivated gardens, so another clue for the right time is just before the thistles and nettles are about to flower (we don,t need the seeds from these to spread).
    Heavy grounds need strimming or cutting of roadsides, the farmers always get it right but the councils love their cost cuts.
    Oops i,ve done it again 😊

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