Want a showy perennial spring garden? Whether you choose bright yellow daffodils or other flowering garden plants, here are three planting guidelines to consider:
- KNOW YOUR GROWING ZONE – The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM) is used to determine which plants are most likely to survive in a given location. The hardiness zone takes geography and climates into consideration to gauge the odds of plant survival. By using the USDA zone map, with zones that cover the United States and Canada, you can decide what plants are best for your region. The zones are separated by a 10-degree difference based on the annual average extreme temperature determined by a 30-year period. When selecting plants, you’ll want to choose ones that will thrive in your hardiness zone to make sure they can take the cold and heat variations where you live. You can use the interactive map or plug in your zip code to determine your planting zone. While hardiness zones may vary slightly depending upon plant variety and exposure, a spring plant such as a daffodil is reliable in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
- UNDERSTAND THE NEEDS OF YOUR BULBS/PLANTS– Most have specific requirements for how they should be planted and maintained. In general, bulbs should be planted 1 ½ to 5 times their own depth to thrive. While the daffodil flowers in the spring, it is best to plant the bulbs in the fall about a month before a freeze is expected. You can always plant the bulbs in the spring, or transplant spring daffodils, but they may hesitate to bloom for a year or two as they require a period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process. Daffodil bulbs need a lot of water when planted. If conditions are dry, the soil must be watered and kept moist until bloom time. Where winters are severe, daffodil bulbs should have at least 3 inches of soil covering them. They can tolerate minimal crowding, but it is better for them to be spaced 3 to 6 inches apart. They also require at least 3 hours of sunlight per day to bloom. They often do not flower in heavy shade. Be sure to give your plant a head-start by selecting high-quality daffodil bulbs. Often, the larger in size, the better.
- PAY ATTENTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS – There are numerous factors that can help plants either thrive or fail. Exposure to wind, humidity, pollutants, snow, ice, sunshine, and more can affect plant survival. While daffodils are a hardy and easy perennial to grow in most regions of North America, you can help your plants’ success. Soil testing is an excellent way to ensure that important needs of your plants are met. You can test the soil’s pH, lime, organic matter and more to create an optimal growing bed. This is important as soil provides a source of nutrients to plants through root interception, mass flow, and diffusion. Daffodils do well in soil that contains organic matter. Mature daffodils will thrive with early spring fertilizer. When planning an entire garden of perennials, select plants that can act as growing companions. If you wish for continual color in your garden, plant perennials with different bloom times, or add in some annuals.
Gardening is an enjoyable outdoor activity. The key to success is to do your research before buying and planting. For more information on the PHZM, visit: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/About.aspx