Planting daffs in grass

‘Rapture’ is a vigorous and long-lasting cyclamineus hybrid daffodil that does well when planted in grass

One of the most effective ways to plant daffodils, and other bulbs, is in grass. Daffodils have an informal look about them and I always think they look best when planted in grass. Of course this is not essential and they can be planted in borders and pots too. I like them everywhere! And the great thing about daffodils, as opposed to most tulips, is that, if you treat them reasonably, they last for years and will get better every season.

You can plant any daffs in grass but, if a neat lawn is important to you then choose those that flower early rather than later so you can cut the grass before it gets too long in early summer. Remember that, to give the bulbs a chance to grow and produce a display the next year you must let the leaves grow for at least six weeks after the flowers fade – no exceptions!

It takes a lot of effort to plant bulbs in grass and even more to lift them so give the choice of variety some thought before you start. Personally I do not like random mixes because they may not all flower together and give a spotty effect. I also do not like the very fancy types and most doubles – I prefer more natural-looking varieties. But it depends on location. In my own garden I have planted white and pink daffs up the drive. They are in front of, and may eventually be below, apple trees and the idea is that they will reflect the colour of the apple blossom. It is not a natural area so I am not trying to create a naturalistic effect. But I have been rather strict in my colour scheme.

The apple trees are still young but eventually the blossom should reflect the colour of my daffs.

At the edge of woodland or shrub beds I would prefer something less artificial. I like to plant one or maybe two varieties together, in similar colours.

Pure white ‘Stainless’ is planted in front of large camellias which provide a startling dark backdrop and rich red flowers

Early, miniature daffs are lovely when combined with crocus and other small bulbs. But check for flowering times – not all miniatures are early.

‘Elka’ is early, tough and very beautiful

I plant in grass either by lifting areas of turf or using a bulb planter. I make the holes first. I certainly don’t do what is often recommended and throw the bulbs over my shoulder and plant where they land. I find that results in them all rolling into the same place and, like a squirrel burying his (or her) nuts, I can’t find half of them.

If planting a mix of bulbs I cut out squares of turf, lift them over, fork over the soil if necessary, plant the small bulbs and fold back the turf. This works best with small bulbs and allows a mix of dwarf bulbs to be planted.

Because the bulbs should increase and seed you do not need to pack them in – leave at least 8cm between them.

When planting masses of larger daffodils I use a bulb planter – but a long-handled one so I can put my foot on it and rapidly make lots of holes without bending all the time! The small and ‘easy-open’ bulb planters are just not strong enough for planting in grass – the handles bend and and blisters are inevitable after a few minutes.

Then a single bulb can be dropped in each hole and the plugs popped back in.

Jobs for the week

It has been dry and warm but rain is on the way this week, making it perfect for sowing and planting.

It is perfect for planting shrubs. Make sure you fork in lots of organic matter and water the hole and the plant first. Then water again after planting so the soil is in contact with the roots.

There is still time to sow seeds of hardy annuals too.

It is a good time for planting ground cover plants, especially in those tricky spots in shade where the soil can be dry in summer but will be moist from now on through autumn and winter, allowing the plants to establish. I find lamiums very useful in part shade.

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