2014-10-16 / From The Garden

Goal: Plant One Million Daffodils

Newport continues its citywide daffodil planting project. Newport continues its citywide daffodil planting project. You might think that planting 250,000 daffodil bulbs over the past eight years would be enough. You’d be mistaken.

The Alliance for a Livable Newport, sponsors of Daffodillion, wants to plant one million daffodils this season to make the city even more beautiful. There will be a free bulb giveaway at the Easton’s Beach parking lot on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each person will receive a free packet of 36 bulbs (retail value of more than $25).

All that is required is identification and adherence to the “I commit to plant my free daffodils” pledge that can be downloaded at Daffodillion.com. The number of packets handed out will be in direct correlation to the number of donations the group receives in advance.

To that end, in honor of Newport’s 375th anniversary in 2014, a donation of $375 will plant 1,639 daffodils, which correspondds to the year of the city’s founding.

After about five years bulbs should be dug up and divided to keep the daffodil population under control. After about five years bulbs should be dug up and divided to keep the daffodil population under control. For more information, go to Daffodillion.com. drainage being key.

The hole should be dug to a depth that is roughly three to four times the circumference of the bulb, or four to eight inches. Calculate the depth from the top of the bulb when it is placed, not from the bottom of the hole. Be sure to plant the bulb with the pointed end up, round base side down, then cover with soil, firmly pressing the soil around the base. The idea is to firmly and totally encase the bulb in soil and prevent any air pockets from forming that might cause the roots to dry out.

Once the bulb is entirely covered, water generously to eradicate air pockets and add mulch on top if desired. The mulch will protect the bulb as it winters over. It will also decompose and feed the soil. Daffodil bulbs require a lot of water in the fall.

The bulbs ideally should be planted about three-six inches apart. But, depending on the effect you wish to create, they can be planted in clusters for a bouquet type look, or, in a single row or multiple rows for a more formal appearance. If you plant them in a row, it is easier to dig one long trench and set the bulbs inside about six inches apart and cover them all at once.

Daffodils make an ideal border for your garden and are very attractive around the base of a tree. Bulbs can also be planted in bare spots here and there to fill out the garden.

According to the American Daffodil Society, you should leave daffodils in the ground for no more than five years. As the daffodils come back every spring, they will naturally spread and new seedlings will sprout and eventually take over the garden. After about five years, the bulbs should be dug up and divided to keep the daffodil population under control. If blooming does not happen one season, it would be best to move them to a new location. The Society also advises that after blooming, never cut the foliage until it begins to yellow, usually in late May or June.

Enhance the soil according to the type in your garden, striving to achieve a slightly acidic soil. Add compost or planting mix to clay soil. Add sulfur to alkaline soil. Finish planting by adding a fertilizer; 5-10-5 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) is a good choice. Add an additional fertilizer, 0-0-50 or 0-10- 10, when the plant blooms. Water the plant thoroughly. Maintain a strict watering regimen for at least the first three weeks after the plant blooms.

About Planting Daffodil Bulbs

During the summer months, daffodils are dormant and they need the winter cold to break them out of the dormancy. In New England, the best time to plant daffodil bulbs is in September and October. This gives the bulbs enough opportunity to get their roots established in the soil before the cold winter freeze sets in.

Prepare a site that is sunny with well-drained soil. They do well in most soil types, but the earth under the bulb should be loosened to encourage root development. Hillsides and raised beds are best, with

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