For the last couple springs my daffodils haven’t been flowering as well as they have in the past. They have been there for about 15 years. Is there anything I can do?
That’s a very common problem. As a clump of daffodils ages, they add smaller bulbs underneath, which get crowded. Wait to see how many bloom and then it’s time to take action. Back in the day we would put some stakes around the area and dig in the fall. Experts now tell us it’s probably better to dig in the spring. Fall excavation almost always meant slicing lots of the bulbs to shreds. In the spring, moving the bulbs “in the green,” is easier and less traumatic for them, although they will resent being moved. Dig the whole bunch up and gently tease the bulbs apart, setting the biggest aside keeping the foliage in place if possible. Improve the soil with a few inches of compost and set the biggest bulbs on the compost, giving them a few inches between each. Then cover with the backfill. The smaller bulbs can also be planted and will bloom when they reach the right size.
Doug Oster, contributing editor