When should you plant daffodil bulbs? Follow Monty Don's step-by-step guide

Spring may seem far off, but Monty Don says we need to start planting our daffodil bulbs ASAP

Large grey pot plants with daffodiles growing in them, positioned on a small wooden table in a garden
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're wondering when to plant daffodil bulbs, you're not alone; amateur gardeners everywhere have been flooding Google with queries about our beloved narcissus. 

If you are hoping to make these bright yellow blooms the centrepiece of all your spring garden ideas, then it's a good idea to start prepping everything now. After all, this isn't one of those quick-fix garden trends you can set up in just a few minutes.

Thank goodness, then, that gardening guru Monty Don has taken it upon himself to share his hard-earned wisdom with narcissus novices everywhere.

When to plant daffodil bulbs

Now, Monty Don has already proven our lord and saviour when it comes to ripening our stubbornly still-green tomatoes. So, yes, it makes sense that he knows exactly when to plant daffodil bulbs: early September, obviously.

More importantly, though, our beloved Monty knows exactly how to plant them to ensure they survive the cold winter months, too.

A mass of daffodil bulbs spread across a table

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Spring bulbs are now on sale but the ground is often much too hard to plant them in grass at this stage of the year,' muses Monty Don in his popular gardening blog, 'so I always begin by planting some bulbs in pots.'

The horticulturalist goes on to explain that he looks out for smaller daffodil varieties at this time of year, such as the Tête-à-tête.

Why? Well, because these tend to 'flower a little earlier' than the larger flowers in your garden border, meaning they can be 'positioned to maximum effect next spring'. 

Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête' |from £3.74 at Crocus

Narcissus 'Tête-à-tête' |from £3.74 at Crocus

This delightful dwarf daffodil tends to bloom with deep golden-yellow flowers in March and April.

Keen to get started? Here's what you need to know.

What you will need

If you're keen to get started, gather all of the tools you need to hand for growing daffodils in pots.

You will need:

How to plant daffodils in pots

An empty plant pot with daffodil bulbs laid out on a table nearby

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to growing daffodils in pots, the process is pretty simple – especially if you follow Monty Don's advice.

You will need to...

1. Fill your containers

Take your plant pot and fill it with peat-free potting compost. Be sure to 'mix your compost with some grit to make sure the drainage is good and the bulbs do not become waterlogged over winter,' adds Monty Don.

'Daffodils require a large container for optimal growth due to their extensive root structure,' explains Julian Palphramand, head of plants at British Garden Centres..

2. Plant them the right way up

That's right; forget figuring out when you should plant daffodil bulbs, and start focusing on which way round they should be.

Basically, the pointy end needs to be sticking upwards. Don't forget it, OK?

Place the bulbs in the container at a depth of approximately 10cm

3. Huddle your bulbs together

Ideally, your bulbs will need to be around 10-15cm (between 4-6in) apart, but you can cluster them together more closely than you would in the ground.

Large grey pot plants with yellow flowered plants on the patio. A modern brick and timber framed family house with four bedrooms, built by Lisa Sower-Lewis and Anthony Lewis in 2016 near Chester.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

In fact, leaving just 5cm between bulbs will make for a gorgeous spring display come next year.

4. Water them well

Be sure to give your bulbs a good watering to get them going, and leave them to their own devices: they should be watered well by the rain over the winter. 

5. Pop them somewhere snug

'Place the planted daffodil pots in a sheltered position outdoors, ready to move into the sun when new growth appears,' advises Monty Don.

'Store the container in a cool and dark location for approximately 10 weeks. Once the shoots reach a height of 5cm, relocate the container to a well-lit area. It is advisable to water the daffodil bulbs sparingly since they are not fond of excessive water,' adds Julian.

What is the latest month to plant daffodil bulbs?

The best time to plant daffodil bulbs is September, as it will give your plants plenty of time to get established. However, you can plant bulbs right through until November if you must, and even as late as January – if you can break through that chilly soil and dig a hole deep enough to plant them, that is.

Can you leave daffodil bulbs in the ground all year?

Daffodil bulbs naturalise, which means that they can be left in the ground all year long.

Better still, they will bloom spring after spring after spring – and all while multiplying, too!

Can you leave daffodils in pots over winter?

You can absolutely leave daffodil bulbs in pots over winter, especially if you follow Monty Don's advice. However, if you bring them indoors during flowering, be sure to put them in a sheltered spot outside as soon as flowering is over.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.  

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