How To Tell When Daffodils Are Ready To Harvest?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 02/26/22 •  6 min read

How To Tell When Daffodils Are Ready To Harvest? Daffodils are one of the most popular bulbs in the garden and give you a fantastic display in the early part of spring. However, many people want to bring these flowers into the house and put them in a vase, so how do you tell when the best time to harvest the daffodils actually is?

To maximize the period in which daffodils survive in a vase inside the best time to pick them is when the flowerhead has developed but is yet to open. At this stage, you can typically see a glimpse of the yellow flowers at the top of the head. If they are harvested at this stage they will open when inside ensuring that the life of the flower is spent in your vase.

This technique is used by commercial growers who commonly say that they do not harvest daffodil flowers if they are fully open because it means that they simply don’t have a shelf life required to survive transport. So given, that we now know the ideal time to pick daffodils how do you actually cut them without damaging the bulb.

How Do You Harvest Daffodils For Cut Flowers?

As many gardening books will tell you it is recommended that you leave the foliage on the plant as long as possible to ensure that the bulbs are able to replenish their energy store for the following year. However, if you are cutting a flower head from the foliage how do you do it without affecting next year’s flowers?

The best way to remove the flower head is to cut only the stalk on which the flower head sits and leave the remaining foliage. If you look carefully at your daffodils you’ll find that there is a primary flower stalk and then several green shoots that make up the leaves that you see above ground. 

To maximize the appeal of the flowers in your vase it is best to try cutting the flower stem at the lowest point possible on the plant to increase the length of the stem in your vase. The best way to do this is not to use secateurs but rather to use a knife so that you can place the blade gently between the foliage and get right down to the bottom of the plant without causing damage to other leaves.

Does Picking Daffodils Encourage More Flowers?

One of the most common questions that many people ask is will the harvesting of flowers encourages the production of additional flowers which is the case with many plants.

The answer here is, unfortunately no because daffodils will only produce a single flush flowers in a season and once that is complete that is the extent of the flower production for that year.

Do All Daffodils Multiply?

The next common question is given that you cannot get more flowers out of the Daffodils how do you actually get them to multiply so that you can have greater numbers of flowers in that short window in early spring. Can you get daffodils to multiply?

The answer to this is yes, daffodils multiply using two different methods which are the division of bulbs and the production of seeds. The most common way that people produce additional bulbs is by division which typically takes between 3 to 4 years to occur.

As such, it is recommended that you dig up your bulbs every couple of years and divide them. When they are dug up you will typically see that there are clumps of bulbs nestled together that need to be broken apart which can be done by hand to ensure that you do not damage them. Bulbs can then be replanted into the ground or even stored in a refrigerator if you live in a warmer climate until you’re ready to plant them.

If you are storing them somewhere inside about the latest that you can plant them is midwinter provided that they have been refrigerated before going into the ground.

It is also important to note that if you do not divide the bulbs eventually they will stop flowering because the bulbs become too crowded below the ground and then progressively produce fewer and fewer flowers. 

Maximizing The Life Of The Daffodils In Your Vase At Home

Once the flowers have been picked from your bulbs you need to place them into a vase containing cleaning fresh water as quickly as possible. Before placing the flower stems into the vase is a good idea to trim the base of the stem at a 45-degree angle to maximize a surface area at the base of the stem where water will be taken up.

To extend the life of the flower heads some florist recommend adding a small amount of sugar to the water as this will provide the plants with access to nutrients even though they have been separated from their root system.

However, the addition of sugar will encourage the growth of bacteria within the water as such as important to replace the water every couple of days to ensure that it remains fresh.

To make the flower stems upright there is a couple of tricks that the florist used to help present the flowers in your vase. One of the best tricks is to use florist balls which are little balls made out of polymers approximately the size of marbles that have a refractive index that is approximately equal to water.

Because the refractive index of the polymer is approximately the same as the water when you drop these polymer balls into the water they cannot be seen at all.

As a result of this, the balls can be placed into the bottom of the vase and the flower stems can be inserted in between them giving them a support structure to get them to stand upright before filling the vase up with water. 

These polymer balls are relatively cheap and are available on Amazon so give them a go the next time you have some flower arranging to do when you are harvesting things from your garden. It is also important to note that these polymer balls can be used over and over and over again so that means that you only need to buy them occasionally.

I hope you found this article useful and have great success with your daffodils.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the section below.

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Paul Smart