Early Daffodils For Long Bloom Season

By Sarah Battersby

/May 2 2017

daffodils-croppedLike many bulbs, daffodils come in varieties that bloom early, mid and late season.

Planting some of each variety extends your garden bloom over several weeks, instead of one flush over a week. Our Toronto master gardeners recommend these early daffodils:

Daffodils, also known as Narcissus, have a relatively early blooming period.  Looking at photos of bulbs in bloom at the Toronto Botanical Gardens from previous years, daffodils such as Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’, Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ (which as the name suggests is one of the earliest bloomers), Narcissus minor var. pumilus ‘Rip Van Winkle’, Narcissus ‘Tamar Fire’ and Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ were all in bloom in late April.  In general, large cup and trumpet varieties bloom early to mid-spring, doubles and multi-flowered are mid to late season and small cup varieties are late season bloomers.


After a long winter, the earliest blooms are often the most cherished, so planting more of those is a spring gift to yourself and your garden. Of the early bloomers, I find white and yellow ‘Ice Follies” is one of the most beautiful and dependable.

Here’s a second benefit of early daffodils. Shade gardens aren’t usually considered good for daffodils. But there is a trick. Early daffodils are the best for shade, so if you have a shady garden choose these ones. The early bloom time gives the leaves a long period to ripen in the sun before the leaves on the trees come out. The maturing daffodil leaves are what gives the bulbs the nourishment it needs for next years flowering.

Like all bulbs,  you must let the dying foliage turn yellow, then you can cut it off. Remove the developing flower seed head too, as soon as the flowers fade. While none of us loves to see yellowing foliage in the garden, it’s the only thing that feeds the bulbs for next year, so we have to grit our teeth and bear it. You can tuck the ripening foliage underneath another perennial to disguise it, but don’t remove any of the leaves till they are fully yellowed and beginning to die off. You want to make sure you have plenty of cheerful flower heads next spring.