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The Definitive Guide to Daffodils

Queen of the spring bulb pageant, the daffodil is everywhere after the snow melts. They come in quite a few varieties ranging from pure white to golden hues of yellow and orange. Daffodils are even more versatile than tulips and hyacinth, making them a great addition to even the toughest gardens. This daffodil care guide covers everything you need to know to have beautiful blooms welcome you into spring.

The definitive guide to daffodils and daffodil care

There was a time when I didn’t appreciate daffodils. I’m sure that was because I was never a huge fan of yellow, especially the iconic trumpet daffodil as seen in large bundles around Easter. They always reminded me of the Crayola primary yellow colour!

Close up of a yellow daffodil bloom

My neighbor planted a dense row of them in the bed that divided our two gardens. At first, I was a bit put off by the bank of yellow that bloomed every April, but then I grew to love the sturdiness and dependability of the sunny yellow faces that greeted me when I arrived home.

Rows of the daffodil flower

While they may be named after Narcissus, there is so much more to the daffodil than it’s bright yellow beauty. Be sure to stick around to the end of the article for a daffodil giveaway!

Sponsored Content: I have proudly partnered with to share with you this guide all about daffodils (who also provided some of the gorgeous photos in this post). We’ve partnered to help remind you that fall is bulb planting season! There are a ton of bulbs you can purchase online at many retailers and garden centers. This is a great reminder to grab your favourite bulbs before all the good ones are sold out. Come spring time, you will be happy you took the initiative when you have a garden full of spring blooms.

The History of Daffodils

The botanical name for daffodil is Narcissus. It is believed to be named after the river god from Greek mythology of the same name. Narcissus was very beautiful and often had people fall in love with him, including the nymph Echo. However, he met her affections with disdain. This led the god of revenge, Nemesis, to make him fall in love with his own reflection. Unable to leave his own image, he eventually withered away, becoming a flower.

Daffodils also mean rebirth and new beginnings as they are one of the first flowers to emerge in spring after the frost. They are known for brightening up the world after a dreary winter.

Daffodils are also valued in China as they grow around Chinese New Year. They represent good luck, prosperity, and good fortune. If they bloom on New Year’s Day, it means you will receive good luck for the year ahead.

Narcissus Daffodil Kiwi Sunset
Photo of Narcissus ‘Kiwi Sunset’ courtesy of

Daffodils as a Beacon of Hope

The daffodil is a beautiful mascot for a very important cause. Since the 1950’s, The American Cancer Society and Canadian Cancer Society have used daffodils to represent hope for a cancer-free future. It was chosen due to its representation of a hardy flower that rises from the cold winter and finds a way to bloom again in the spring. It represents vitality, growth, and new life.

Daffodil Month is celebrated throughout March. Daffodils are sold with all profits going towards helping those living with cancer and funding for cancer research. Next March, keep an eye out for daffodil sales in your local community to support this cause!

Woman holding a daffodil bulb
Photo courtesy of

Daffodil Toxicity

It should be known that all parts of the daffodil bulb are toxic. While you may not think to reach for a daffodil when hungry, the bulbs can be mistaken for other plants such as onions. Not to mention any curious kiddos or digging dogs out there!

Ingesting parts of a daffodil can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. While these symptoms will only last for a few hours, they can easily be avoided. The toxicity comes from the chemical lycorine. The bulb contains the highest level of lycorine but it is also present throughout the plant.

Plant daffodils in an area where pets and children don’t frequent. While I wish all plants were edible, we have to be careful about what we plant and where. Children should always be supervised in the garden and taught not to eat anything they don’t know.

Ruffled Daffodil blooming
Photo courtesy of

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Daffodils

Daffodils are very popular because of their hardiness and ability to easily naturalize. They grow in zones 3-8, withstanding temperatures up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. That means most of us up north will have no trouble at all planting daffodil bulbs in the fall and waiting for them to bloom in the spring. They act as a perennial plant and flower early in the season. Overall, they are a fairly low maintenance bulb.

They can be planted just about anywhere, but they pair well with late-blooming perennials. Daffodils can provide some bright colour to otherwise dreary beds in the springtime. They can also be planted under shrubs and trees as they can handle shade.

Here is the lowdown on growing daffodils:

  • USDA Zones: 3-8
  • Flower color: white, yellow, orange, red, and pink
  • Flowering period: February – May
  • Planting depth to the base of bulb: large bulbs: 8 inches; small bulbs: 5 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 3 inches for large bulbs; 1 inch for small bulbs
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Light requirements: full sun to full shade
  • Landscape uses: daffodils are suitable for almost every possible application: fields, beds, containers, borders, rock gardens, as cut flowers, and for forcing.

white daffodil flower

Growing Daffodils in Containers

Container gardening is becoming more and more popular. You can force daffodil bulbs to bloom a little bit earlier in the year by placing them in a container. These make for great additions to your balcony, patio, or entranceway while other flowers take their time to spring up.

You will want to choose daffodil varieties that have short stems and foliage that won’t be too big for the container. When choosing a container, make sure it is at least 10-12 inches deep and has drainage holes. You can also add a layer of clay shards to the bottom of the container for extra drainage.

Press your bulbs into loose soil five inches deep (for small daffodils). You can place them relatively close together as the bulbs will not grow wider. Place your container outside and wait for the bulbs to emerge. If is it persistently dry outside, make sure to water them.

If there is frost on its way, try to move your container into a safe place that isn’t too warm such as a garage or shed. Bulbs in containers are more susceptible to the cold as it comes in from all directions.

Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot
Photo courtesy of

Giveaway Time!

As promised, is giving away 30 Narcissus ‘Thalia’ to one lucky Garden Therapy reader! This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Katherine!!

Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to get updates.

Narcissus Thalia Daffodil
Photo of Narcissus ‘Thalia’ courtesy of

Award-winning Thalia has been one of the most popular Narcissus since its 1916 introduction. Soon nicknamed The Orchid Narcissus, fragrant Thalia has up to five, pendant white flowers per stem with recurved petals and a dainty cup-shaped crown. A versatile heirloom, Thalia is as well-suited for classic boxwood parterres as it is for iridescent moon gardens or naturalized woodland drifts. Zone, 4-9, height 16” to 18”, early blooming, full to partial sun. Plant three times as deep as the bulb is tall.


  1. Thank you for the continual supply of seasonal inspiration! My favorite inbox day is Garden Therapy day. Fingers crossed for chance to win for bulbs!

  2. Love daffodils! They bring sunshine down to earth! Yellow was my mother’s favorite color. It wasn’t mine. But since she has passed, I find myself searching out all yellow flowers and planting them in her memory. I would love to add your daffodils to my garden. Thanks for all the info on growing. I read your emails all the time!

  3. Daffodils have always been a favorite of mine due to wonderful memories of picking them wild along the sides of country back roads as a child. My birthday is in March, the month they first start to bloom in our area. So naturally I thought they were celebrating with me every year. Still do even though the years have rolled on past 64 now. My mother always grew them in each of her yards and started my love for them. I think of her every time I see them now, especially after her passing.

    Somebody will be so happy next year when their sleepy heads start peeking up with the promise of Spring.

  4. They are all so pretty! I didn’t realize there are all white daffodils too until I saw your pictures.


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