When to cut back daffodils and tulips

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Daffodils and tulips are both flowers that grow from bulbs and can add some much-needed colour to gardens when they flower. There are a range of colours and breeds of both daffodils and tulips, which have varying life spans – so when should you cut back daffodils and tulips?

Planting bulbs are ideal for any garden, with plants flowering all year round.

Depending on the type, bulbs can be planted during the autumn, spring and summer, but where you place them can vary.

Some prefer full sunlight, others partial shade while some thrive in full shade.

The difficulty of growth depends on the breed, but among the easiest are daffodils and tulips.

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Daffodils grow best in a free-draining area, away from total shade and away from south-facing walls.

You should plant daffodils at twice the depth of the bulb – between four and six inches deep – and between four and eight inches apart.

Tulips are best planted between October and November, and flower from March to May.

They prefer full sun and should be planted at least twice the bulb’s width apart – at a depth of two or three times the bulb’s height.

So when should you cut back daffodils and tulips?

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises waiting for at least six weeks after the end of flowering before cutting back bulb plants.

You should cut back the dead foliage, and ideally, only remove when it is yellow and straw-like.

Until the foliage has this appearance, you should continue to water the bulbs and feed them as normal.

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The RHS also advises not to tie or knot the leaves.

Most tulips are best replaced each year, as they are unlikely to reflower after one year.

Some daffodils do rebloom each year including

  • Narcissus Actaea
  • Narcissus Carlton
  • Narcissus February Gold
  • Narcissus Hawera
  • Narcissus Ice lollies
  • Narcissus Jack Snipe
  • Narcissus Minnow
  • Narcissus Mount Hood
  • Narcissus Peeping Tom

Bulbs thrive with an all-purpose fertiliser, which should be applied in late February to encourage flowering.

For bulbs in containers, the RHS advises using a liquid high-potassium feed, such as tomato fertiliser, from early spring until six weeks after flowering.

In terms of watering, all bulbs need adequate water while in growth, and for six weeks after flowering.

Check pots to make sure they don’t dry out during the growing period – compost should feel moist but not wet to the touch.

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