Daffodil Seed Cultivation: Tips On Growing Daffodil Seeds

Daffodil Seed Cultivation: Tips On Growing Daffodil Seeds

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By: Anne Baley

In most gardens, daffodils reproduce from bulbs, coming up year after year. The thought of growing them from seed may seem a bit unusual, but you can do it if you’ve got the time and patience. Growing daffodil seeds is a very simple proposition, but turning the seed into a blooming plant can take five years or more. Learn how to propagate daffodil from seed after collecting the seeds from your garden.

Daffodil Seed Pods

Daffodil seed cultivation is a simple process, mostly requiring patience. Once the bees have pollinated your daffodil flowers, a seed pod will grow at the base of the bloom. Don’t deadhead your prettiest flowers; instead, tie a piece of string around each stem to mark it for later in the season.

In the fall when the plants are brown and brittle, the daffodil seed pods at the end of the stems hold the seeds. Shake the stems, and if you hear dried seeds rattling around inside, they’re ready for harvest. Snap off the pods and hold them over an envelope. Shake the pods, squeezing them lightly, to allow the seeds to drop out of the pods and into the envelope.

How to Propagate Daffodil from Seed

Young daffodil plants must grow indoors for at least the first year, so knowing when to plant daffodil seeds is more a matter of when you have the time. Begin with a large tray or pot filled with fresh potting soil. Plant the seeds about 2 inches apart (5 cm.), and cover them with ½ inch (1.25 cm.) of soil.

Place the pot where it gets at least half a day of direct sunlight, kept in a warm spot. Keep the potting soil moist by misting it each day. The seeds may take weeks to sprout, and will look like little blades of grass or small onion sprouts when they first come up.

Grow the daffodil plants until the bulblets underground start to grow big enough to almost touch, then dig them up and replant them in larger homes. Dig up and replant the bulbs each time they grow large enough. It will take two to five years before you see the first bloom from your seed-grown daffodils.

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Read more about Daffodils

Yard and Garden: Daffodil Care

AMES, Iowa -- Home gardeners welcome daffodils as a sign of spring. However, they often have questions about how to manage foliage and bulbs after spring blooming. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists share information about daffodil care. To have additional questions answered, contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108 or [email protected]

Is it necessary to deadhead daffodils?

Deadheading is the removal of spent flowers. While tulips should be deadheaded immediately after flowering, it is not necessary to deadhead daffodils. The vigor of tulip bulbs quickly declines if tulips are not promptly deadheaded and seed pods are allowed to develop. However, seed pod formation on daffodils has little impact on plant vigor. Some gardeners do deadhead daffodils for aesthetic reasons as the spent flowers/seed pods are not attractive.

Should I tie or braid the daffodil leaves after the daffodils are done blooming?

After flowering, daffodil foliage typically persists for four to six weeks. Daffodil foliage tends to get floppy and look a little unkempt. However, it’s best to leave the foliage alone and not tie or braid the leaves. Daffodil foliage manufactures food for the plant. Adequate amounts of food must be stored in the bulbs in order for the daffodils to bloom the following spring. Tying the leaves together with rubber bands or braiding the foliage reduces the leaf area exposed to sunlight. As a result, the leaves manufacture smaller amounts of food. In addition, tying or braiding the foliage is a time-consuming chore.

When can I remove daffodil foliage?

Daffodil foliage should not be removed until it has turned brown and died. The length of time it takes the foliage to die back depends on bulb type, weather and other factors. The foliage of daffodils usually doesn’t die back until late June or early July. The foliage of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs is performing a vital function. It’s manufacturing food for the bulbs. Premature removal of the plant foliage reduces plant vigor and bulb size, resulting in fewer flowers next spring. After the foliage has turned brown, it can be safely cut off at ground level and discarded.

When can I move daffodil bulbs?

Daffodils can be dug up and replanted as soon as the foliage dies back (turns brown) in early summer. Daffodils can also be dug up and replanted in fall (October). If you would like to move daffodil bulbs in fall, mark the site when the foliage is present so the bulbs can be located in October. Daffodils perform best when planted in a well-drained soil in full sun.

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When do you harvest your seeds? Do you plant your seeds as harvested, or do you give them a moist cold or other treatment?

Have never grown Daffodils from seed, but have made a few crosses this year using some new split-cup varieties I just planted last year. These and the very tiny cup ones like the poeticus group appeal to me the most.


Yes, the white ones are from seed too. I have a large collection of late blooming daffodils that are mostly white and some years they make a lot of seed.

However, so far there are only single bulbs of each different seedling. hope the good ones multiply fast! I checked out that website and it's very misleading. No one can get blooms the next year from daffodil seed. The soonest I've ever gotten blooms was 4 years.

I just plant my seeds in the ground sometime between July and September - when I get time - and don't give them any special treatment. It seems that they get enough water over the winter and then hopefully come up the next spring. The first year's leaf is very thin and looks a lot like a wild onion. except the wild onions have a sheath visible above the ground. daffodils don't.

I've picked a few seeds so far this year. will be checking over the weekend to see how many I have. Last year it seemed like every flower I left in the garden made seeds, but I don't expect things to be that plentiful this year will all the rain we had.

Reader Comments

Star of Bethlehem

Submitted by Nancy L Bakker on March 2, 2021 - 11:53am

I read that the Star of Bethlehem is invasive and also beautiful. Could you please post a picture so I can make a decision as to whether or not to plant it?

Daffodil bulbs

Submitted by Charlotte Kilpatrick on February 23, 2021 - 11:01am

It's nearly the end of Feb and I have 25 daffodil bulbs I bought before Christmas thinking they would get planted in the spring. duh. What happens if I plant now. Am located in upper SC. Thanks.

Zone 10A - What can I do, other than plant new bulbs every year?

Submitted by Brett Keller on January 29, 2021 - 7:40pm

Fall 2019 I purchased a bag of bulbs at Lowes locally in Los Angeles. I planted them in December and they came up a few months later and put on a spectacular show. I left the greens on the plants as they faded away and removed them once they were clearly spent and left them in the ground. The garden is irrigated and much is drip, so they shouldn't have been super wet or totally dry, even though we did see some 115+ degree temps a handful of times last summer. Late Fall 2020 I added a nice variety of Daffs to some other areas of the garden the week after thanksgiving. Many of those new bulbs are starting to emerge and I'm excited to see them. It's still early, but I'm not seeing any sprouts from the bulbs planted in '19 and I'm wondering if they survived or if there's anything I can do to keep Daffs in Zone 10A. I think about pulling them and putting them into a refrigerator for a month or two and replanting late November or December. Its a lot of work, but they're truly spectacular, a treat for the eyes! Any recommendations? Thanks!


Submitted by The Editors on February 7, 2021 - 12:32pm

If the fall 2020 bulbs are coming up, you had enough chill time. It’s possible that the bulbs you bought in two different years are actually different varieties and will emerge at different dates during early spring.

Watering daffodils

Submitted by Valerie Olson on November 2, 2020 - 11:35am

Just planted a bunch of bulbs in California. How often should I water them before spring?

Watering Dormant Daffodils

Submitted by The Editors on November 3, 2020 - 9:39am

If your area gets regular rainfall, you likely won’t need to water them at all. Otherwise, you’ll just want to avoid letting the ground around the bulbs dry out completely for long periods of time. Water them every so often, enough to keep the soil soft and somewhat moist.

October - newly planted bulbs already coming up

Submitted by Caroline on October 19, 2020 - 12:43am

I live in zone 9A and approximately one week ago I planted about 100 bulbs. I have great dreams of what it will look like next spring, but to my great alarm everything is sprouting already! After one week!
Now what?

Any advice or suggestions appreciated. Part of the problem is they are planted directly with my brussels sprouts and broccoli, they will run into one another.

Daffs in zone 9A

Submitted by The Editors on October 19, 2020 - 3:47pm

You’re in such a warm zone and planted so early, the bulbs hit “go” (grow!). Had you waited until what approximates a chill sets in, the bulbs may have waited. You can cover them with a light mulch, and keep covering them as they pop up.

Presumably you planned to pull the b-sprouts and brocc stalks once they finish? You might not, as this may upset/uproot the daffs too. Instead, cut the stalks at ground level and leave until spring.


Submitted by Nancy on August 22, 2020 - 7:17am

I recommend planting the daffodils in pots or at the edge of a garden (vegetable or flower), so they will be easily retrievable in the late spring of 2021. They can be planted crowded in pots you just need them to produce leaves and keep the bulb alive. If not planted, the bulb will dry out over the year,

Planting daffodils

Submitted by Elaine on July 28, 2020 - 10:58am

I'm going to be moving next year, and this spring I noted which clumps of daffodils I want to take with me, and when they died down I dug them up. My new garden won't be ready until the fall of 2021, so do I need to find somewhere to plant the bulbs this fall, or can I leave them out of the ground until next winter? I'd really appreciate knowing what to do as I realize this isn't a normal situation.

Storing bulbs

Submitted by The Editors on July 29, 2020 - 3:55pm

Next fall is a long way off, so it would be ideal to plant them. But if you can not, put the bulbs in a cool, dry place until fall and plant them then. Do not water them in storage.

Daffodils, removing and replanting

Submitted by Kevin M Farrell on May 15, 2020 - 3:58pm

I have Daffodils that I planted more than 25 years ago. They are crowded and I wish to move them. When do I dig them up? How do I store them? When do I replant them? I live in Maryland near Washington,DC.

Lift, separate, and store for fall planting

Submitted by The Editors on May 21, 2020 - 4:50pm

Wait until after the plant has died back completely, then dig the bulbs being careful not to cut them with the shovel. You can divide the clumps so you will have even more daffodils next year. You can store them for awhile in a cool place until ready to plant in late summer or fall.

Flowers being chewed off

Submitted by Sue on April 26, 2020 - 6:36pm

I have found several blooms form daffodils on the ground near the plant. These are the actual flowers that have bloomed not flower buds. They look as though they have been neatly clipped from the stem but the actual flowers are not eaten and are just left on the ground. We do have lots of chipmunks, red and grey squirrels where we live but this has never occurred before and these daffodils have been in for years. Interestingly, it is only the solid yellow ones with which this occurs. Any ideas as to cause? Suggestions? Thanks in advance!

Daffodils nipped

Submitted by The Editors on April 29, 2020 - 3:20pm

Normally, rodents, bunnies, deer, etc., will avoid daffodils, as the flowers can be toxic. It may be that one animal didn’t know that until biting into a few. According to some sources, deer usually leave a ragged cut when chewing plants. Rabbits can leave a clean cut, usually at a bit of an angle. Groundhogs may also leave a clean cut. Some birds, such as crows, have been known to clip off flowers in general and just leave them on the ground. Look around for signs of fur, feathers, tracks, etc., in case they might give you a clue as to the culprit!

Daffodils not blooming

Submitted by Helen Leonard on April 20, 2020 - 5:33pm

Many of my daffodils are not flowering but their leaves are coming up. I thought this was a sign to separate them. When I dug them up there were many small baby bulbs which separated and will replant. Is not flowering a sign that they need to be separated? If not, what is the problem?

Daffs don't bloom

Submitted by The Editors on April 23, 2020 - 2:18pm

Unfortunately, there is no one problem—or at least no single one we can identify. Daffodils fail to bloom when or if they . . .

• do not get at least a half day of sunlight

• are in an area with poor drainage

• have been fed with a high-nitrogen fertilizer OR have not been fertilized in years (a 5-10-10 mix when planted, when leaves emerge, and at bloom is recommended)

• experienced a heat wave last spring

• have a virus, e.g., yellow stripe (such lines appear in the foliage)

• foliage was removed last season before bulbs could replenish the bulbs leaving the foliage for six weeks is advised

Those are most of the common reasons. Perhaps one is yours?


Submitted by Doreen on April 18, 2020 - 9:48am

I’ve had a lot of what I call blind daffs what’s the best thing to do with them. I usually leave them in the ground. If I dig them up how would one know which is the blind ones. Thank you

Blind Daffodils

Submitted by The Editors on April 20, 2020 - 4:56pm

Unfortunately, without observing which have bloomed and which haven’t (and labeling them accordingly), it’s not possible to tell them apart. The ones that have bloomed should keep their flowers for a little while after blooming, so keep an eye on them and mark which are which before digging!

What to do with daffodils that no longer bloom

Submitted by Gay Graham on April 17, 2020 - 4:53pm

We have an abundance of daffodils that are quite lovely. I notice that the bloom, especially as it starts to fade, has somewhat of a bulge under the petals. Can these be planted, and therefore, will I realize more flowers next spring? I live on San Juan Island, WA.

Daffodil Seeds

Submitted by The Editors on April 20, 2020 - 4:57pm

Those are likely the daffodil seed pods. While it’s possible to plant them, they typically take several years to grow into a proper plant and produce blooms. Generally, they’re not worth the trouble of planting, unless you don’t mind waiting!

Daffodil bulbs pulled out before flowering

Submitted by suzanne on April 16, 2020 - 8:33am

Its mid-April and my daffodils were all accidentally pulled out and leaves stripped. If I replant now will they come back this spring? Or should
I replant now and just wait till next year?

Daffodil dilemma

Submitted by The Editors on April 16, 2020 - 3:37pm

Daffodil bulbs have roots like most plants so something so disruptive as pulling them out has done them in, certainly for this year. In their best form, daffs use their foliage to help to produce the energy for the next season’s blooms after each season’s flower period. So yours have been compromised. Hard to tell how they will fare going forward but it’s worth the time/trouble to replant them and see what happens next year. To be on the safe side, that is, to have flowers next spring, you might want to buy new bulbs in the fall and plant them then, as usual. Most people think you/we can’t have too many daffodils!

Received potted daffodils as a gift

Submitted by Diane on April 15, 2020 - 11:15am

I received a beautiful pot of daffodils as an Easter gift. Can I plant these outside (in Wisconsin) while they’re flowering? Or should I keep them in the post until they die off, then just plant the bulbs in fall?

Easter daffs

Submitted by The Editors on April 16, 2020 - 3:42pm

You are correct: Leave them in the pot, with foliage, until the foliage wilts and droops, then trim it off. Put the bulbs, in the pot or not, in a cool, dry place until fall and plant them then. Do not water them in storage. If you take them from the pot now, they will wilt/collapse practically in your hand…never to rise again, at least this season.

Am I too late

Submitted by Mike Daymond on February 14, 2020 - 5:51am

have totally forgotten about my daff bulbs from last year, unfortunately they have started to grow in their storage bag and have yellow/white shoots from the bulbs, am I able to plant these as they are? should I do anything with them? should they go in the bin and I just get some more?
Thank you

Dig up the daffodil to split up as the clump is to big and no f

Submitted by Bernie A Newberry on June 19, 2019 - 1:44pm

Too big a clump and no flowers

Daffodils growinf in Florida

Submitted by chris on May 17, 2019 - 2:23pm

I have a bag of daffodil bulbs, I now live in Ft Lauderdale Fl. Will they grow here if I plant them?

Daffodils in South FL

Submitted by The Editors on May 17, 2019 - 4:29pm

Daffodils require a period of cooler weather to go into dormancy, so it’s unlikely they’ll do well outdoors in south Florida. You could try chilling them in the fridge for a couple months before planting in a container in late fall or early winter—they may be tricked into blooming then.

I made a mistake with my daffodils

Submitted by Ivanka on May 12, 2019 - 7:56am

I am new to gardening and didn’t realize that I should not have cut the foliage after the flowers bloomed. I cut the down to about an inch from the ground. Any chance they will return next year it should I plant new bulbs. Also does the same apply to amaryllis as they have very long leaves and I was thinking of doing the same after they finished blooming. Thanks

Where the Wild Daffodils Grow

Dr. Sarah Treanor Bois, Director of Research & Education at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation

The common daffodil, Narcissus sp., is a symbol of spring throughout North America. On Nantucket, we embrace the yellow blossom as a reminder that spring will (eventually) come to the island.

Narcissus triandrus growing wild in its native Portugal. (photo from flicker)

Beyond the fanfare of Siasconset and the antique car parade on Main Street, few of us reflect on what the daffodil plant actually is and where it came from. Milestone Road blooms yellow and white with the colorful flowers. These were planted by homeowners, Nantucket Land Bank staff, as well as countless boy scouts and other volunteers. They can be found naturalized in fields, lawn edges, roadsides, and other human-disturbed sites throughout southern New England. However, daffodils are not native to our region. Where in the world does the daffodil grow wild? Where has this plant evolved from?

First off, let’s talk about the plant itself. When we say “daffodil,” we are referring to species in the genus Narcissus which also includes paperwhites and tiandrus. These are perennial predominantly spring plants of the Amaryllis family. There are approximately 50 species of daffodils and with horticultural selection and breeding, there are thousands of cultivars of these species. When Carl Linnaeus was classifying species in the 1700s, he used “Narcissus” to describe the delicate, yellow flowers of these strong spring plants. The name comes from the youth of Greek mythology. Narcissus was a beautiful and vain young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He was so mesmerized that he fell into the pool, drowned, and, according to the tale, turned into a flower. I suppose on Nantucket we feed the Narcissus ego by dedicating a festival to the blossom named after him.

Well before Linnaeus, daffodil plants were known in ancient civilization and were introduced into gardens in about 300BC. The Greek botanist and philosopher Theophrastus listed and described many of the earliest known kinds of narcissus plants. Daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans who thought that the sap from daffodils had healing powers. Actually the sap contains crystals that can irritate the skin.

All parts of the plant are actually poisonous, especially the bulb. In some cases, poisoning and even death have occurred when the bulbs were eaten after being mistaken for wild leeks. Their apparent bad taste and toxicity may be fortunate in some respects, however, as it means the deer generally avoid them.

All members of the genus Narcissus have conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals (the outer part of the flower) and the distinctive cup or trumpet-like center. They have a single central leafless hollow flower stem with one to several leaves arising directly from the bulbs. The size and color of these flower parts are highly variable. Daffodils are native to meadows and woodland edges much like what we see with naturalized populations on Nantucket. Specific habitats vary widely with species and varieties, but most prefer acidic soils. They are insect pollinated, but persist with mostly via bulbs. The division of bulbs allows for propagation of individuals. Each bulb unit has a life of about four years.

Once the leaves die back in summer, the roots also wither. After some years, the roots shorten, pulling the bulbs deeper into the ground. The bulbs develop from the inside, pushing the older layers outwards which become brown and dry, forming an outer shell, the skin. Up to 60 layers of skin have been counted in some wild species.

With the traditional daffodil form, structure suits function. Daffodils are pollinated by bees, butterflies, flies, and hawkmoths seeking pollen from anthers within the trumpet-like corona. Bees have to completely enter the flower in their search for nectar and/or pollen. The bees come into contact with the stigma before their legs, thorax, and abdomen contact the anthers, and this approach causes cross pollination among plants.

After flowering, the daffodil leaves turn yellow and die back once the seed pod is ripe. The fruit capsule contains numerous seeds which are round and swollen with a hard coat. Most species have a total of 36 seeds, but some can have more. Seed dispersal in the wild is generally by wind or passively via passing animals and gravity.

The common daffodil is native to Western Europe, namely Spain, Portugal, western France, Morocco, and Italy. While Holland may come to mind, no bulb plant is actually native to Holland. However, it is the home of almost all the hybrids, since the Dutch hybridizers have not only created thousands of new flowers gardeners love, they’ve developed a huge national industry that supplies bulbs to gardeners worldwide. No members of the Narcissus genus (or the parent plant family) are native to North America, though they obviously do well in many of the gardens in our region.

It is important to understand that many of the original wild forms of these famous flowers look nothing like the garden flowers that hybridizers have created from them. The wild plants are generally smaller and paler than the many cultivars.

Some of the wild species are still available to grow in your own garden. Poet’s Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus), for example, is a white species with a flattened, but brilliant orange cup. This wild daffodil is an ancient one and was first described by Carl Linnaeus in the 1750s. Narcissus jonquilla, the jonquil or rush daffodil, is another wild daffodil native to Spain and Portugal. This small fragrant plant has many small blossoms and one stem and has been used in horticulture as the parent plant for many cultivars.

The Tenby daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. obvallaris), a subspecies of the wild variety, grows wild across southwest Wales.

Today’s Dutch bulb industry is a true phenomenon in the world of horticulture. Nine billion flower bulbs a year are produced in Holland’s modern production fields today.

For a visual display of just some of the varieties of blossom shapes, colors, and sizes, check out the 44th Annual Community Daffodil Flower Show at Bartlett’s Farm over Daffodil Weekend (

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