Faded daffodil in need of deadheading

Should you be deadheading your daffodils?

A patch of daffodils never fails to cheer us up but when they are starting to fade, oh such a sorry sight.  So, should you deadhead daffodils?  Given that patches in the verges do not get deadheaded and yet return year on year in a blaze of glory the answer should surely be no.  This was the question put to the Gardener’s Question Time panel recently and a question I have asked myself and been asked several times and so I wanted to find out what the answer was. Of course, it depends who you speak to so I looked at all the usual sources and see what they had to say about this and here are the results.

What Gardener’s Question Time (11 April 2021) says…

To be honest the panel didn’t really offer an opinion because the question was answered in a dedicated segment relating to spring bulbs in general however the answer was…

  • The main problem when it comes to daffodils is cutting the leaves too early.
  • Yes, you should deadhead and do not be tempted to cut down the leaves for at least six weeks.
  • Oh, and if you have hundreds and thousands and so want to do it on a bigger scale some may use a garden cane to thrash the heads off!
  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000twtr

Oh and why was it those patches in verges and woodlands do well year on year? The answer is the leaves can die back without people coming along to “tidy them up” and as they are left to their own devices they are naturally replacing the older bulbs with newer so such congregations will always do well.

What the RHS says…

What Gardener’s World says…

Ashridge Nurseries says…

  • Deadhead by removing just the flowerhead leaving the rest of the stem in place (as this is still photosynthesizing)
  • After deadheading, apply a feed to give the process of building up the bulb for next year a boost.
  • Rather than tying them in a knot use other closely placed plants to cover the dying leaves.
  • https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/blog/deadheading-daffodils

What HortZone says…

What Garden News says…

The Answer Is?

So, looking over all the expert opinion the consensus is yes you should:

  • Deadhead your daffodils and do so by removing the part flower and seed pod but leave the rest of the stem.
  • Wait at least six weeks after the flowers have finished before removing the leaves.
  • Ideally you should water and feed because even though they appear to have finished they are busy getting ready for next year and so this helps get them ready to put on another spectacular show for you.

And if you don’t… your daffodils will still be back next year but probably not quite as good a show.

I thought the Ashbridge Nurseries view was the most comprehensive of all those offered, they also explained why you should leave the stalk but also continue to water and feed and offered the very best way to deal with the problem of the dying leaves.

Oh, and that matter of tying in knots or binding the leaves… I have tried this (one of the leaves used as a tie), it does make for a neat look, but following the advice it will be reducing the leaf/stem area available for photosynthesizing and more so if the leaves are being broken as they are being tied/bound. I am pretty sure if you tie very loosely and keep them well fed and watered, they would be just fine, but the consensus of others is not to tie or bind them.

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