Each spring we spread compost (made with cow manure) over everything,
including the bulbs, and despite a cold and rainy spring, our
Daffodils (which are about 25 or 30 years old!) were lovely this year.
We've never used commercial fertilizer, but bulb food is available. I
think one of the best reliable websites for bulbs is probably the U.S.
Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center. They suggest fertilizing
your bulbs regularly by applying a slow release bulb food in the
autumn or well rotted cow manure in early spring.
U.S. Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center
Click on "Flower Bulbs of Spring"
Tips for Perennilizing: Fertilizing
"For long-term blooming year after year, feed perennialized bed
plantings regularly. To obtain best results, use fertilizer several
times during the growing season. The first application should be made
about one month after planting. Then again immediately before and
after flowering. If it is only possible to feed on one occasion, this
should be directly after flowering. An inorganic fertilizer can be
used that has an NPK 12-10-18 (2 kilograms per 100 square meters, or
just under 4.5 lbs. for every 120 square yards per application) or a
mixture of organic fertilizers or a timed-released fertilizer can also
be used. These should be applied just before or during a rain shower
so that they become available soon afterwards. Granulated dried cow
manure can also be used and is very easily applied. Covering bare soil
with a generous mulch of stable manure or compost is usually only
practical for small areas."
"For naturalized plantings in the landscape, such as daffodils, follow
this regime: During the autumn, apply an organic fertilizer or use a
timed-release bulb food. We have stopped recommending bonemeal in
Canada as the new formulations smell just like bones, and dogs go
crazy digging in spots where bonemeal has been applied. A quicker
acting artificial fertilizer can be used during late spring when the
blossoms are beginning to fade, but the foliage is growing vigorously.
Without feeding, flower bulbs go steadily into decline after their
first year, very few continuing from year to year."
FAQ: Is it true that bone meal is the best bulb food?
"Once upon a time, bone meal was considered an excellent bulb
fertilizer, but times have changed! Most bone meal today has been so
thoroughly processed that the essential nutrients have been literally
boiled out. As well, some of the newer bone meal formulations smell
just like bones ending up actually attracting dogs, raccoons, etc who
start digging in the area where the bone meal has been applied.
Spring-flowering bulbs actually need no fertilizer for their first
season of blooming. A healthy Dutch bulb will already contain all the
food it needs to support one season of spectacular growth. Bulbs that
will be left in the ground to naturalize will benefit from well-rotted
cow manure or special bulb fertilizer when the shoots first appear in
spring and again the following autumn."
FAQ: What should I do after tulips fade in spring? What about daffodils?
"Avoid fertilizing the annuals planted in the same bed until the bulbs
have died back. Bulbs in spring, if they're fertilized at all, should
only get a dose of fast-release nitrogen about six weeks before
flowering (normally bulbs want a low nitrogen mix, but in spring it is
the green-encouraging nitrogen that is called for). Fertilizing bulbs
too close to flowering time, when the bulbs can't metabolize the food,
only encourages fusarium and other nasty things."
International Bulb Society
F"or bulbs that you will naturalize or perennialize, you have the
At fall planting time:
* for first year's bloom, no fertilizer is needed.
* for naturalized bulbs after the first season, there are three good options:
o a good organic compost or well-rotted cow manure worked into
the soil when planting, and a mulch of this material,
o a slow-release bulb food,
o a combination of bone meal and an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10(NPK),
fast-release soluble fertilizer (about one tablespoon per square
Additional Links of Interest
Holland Bulb Booster 9-9-6
Good luck with your Daffodils! As alway, please let me know if you
have any questions.
Google Search Terms Used:
daffodils didn't flower