Planting Daffodils in Containers & Other Fall Tasks
This year, my garden space is maxed out (sound familiar?) so I’ll be planting daffodils in containers for the first time. While it’s probably easier to forego planting any daffodils this year, I’ll miss their cheery faces too much come Spring if I don’t plant any. Read on for all the container planting details and a little discussion of Fall gardening tasks I’m currently working on.
Sometimes our gardening schedule is at the whim of others. For example, I’m still waiting on a shipment of ranunculus and anemone corms, which means I’ll be planting later than desired for a second year in a row—kind of a bummer. On a happier note, a shipment of daffodils arrived on my doorstep this week, so this weekend suddenly became all about planting daffodils in containers and around the bases of some of our fruit trees.
But First, Some Fall Gardening Tasks
Nothing really says Fall in Southern California more than the brilliant colored fruit that arrives. Currently, we are enjoying pomegranates and persimmons. The fuyu persimmons are especially exciting, as this is the second year we’ve had the tree, and it’s our first ever harvest! Scarfing down such fruits really gets me in the mood for the cool season because my tastebuds know these flavors as synonymous with Fall. Is scarfing down fruit technically a gardening task? I think so 😉
Speaking of vibrant harvests, this is also the season for harvesting sweet potatoes for curing! If you are curious how to harvest and cure sweet potatoes, I’ve got you covered with a full recount of my adventures with sweet potatoes. This year I only grew a small, 2’x4’ bed of sweet potatoes, but we got 11 lbs from that humble area. If I were planning ahead for Thanksgiving, I probably should have harvested them slightly earlier, but we will see how they taste as we approach the holidays.
Many of you can probably relate to this being a busy time of year. There’s a lot of food preserving, harvesting the last of the Summer’s bounty, and scrambling to clean up garden beds for a new season. While some of these tasks yield immediate results—like cleaning and amending garden beds—-a large portion of Fall gardening tasks are planning for the future. For example, it’s a good time to plant garlic in the ground even though you won’t see a harvest for 7-10 more months! Currently, I still need to amend my garlic area and get to planting (you can read all about growing garlic HERE), but daffodils and some Spring flowers are also examples of crops that require prepping months in advance like garlic!
Growing Daffodils in Mild Climates
Zone 10 gardener here! As a mild climate gardener, I’ve experimented growing a few different Spring bulbs in my garden. From past experience, I can confidently say that daffodils have been one of the easiest bulbs to grow, and almost all my daffodils come back every year to surprise me! Daffodils are amongst the Spring blooming flowers that need to be planted in Fall in mild garden climates. In fact, they are in good company with one of my favorite flowers….the ranunculus! For more Fall planted bulbs for Southern California, check out my article HERE.
While there are daffodil bulbs (several years old) all throughout my garden, this year I was inspired to add a wider variety. So of course, about six months ago, with no plans for space, I spontaneously ordered 80 daffodil bulbs! Please tell me you are familiar with such impulse buying! Anyway, these 80 bulbs arrived, and I suddenly faced the question: where am I possibly going to plant all these daffodil bulbs?
Please note that narcissus and daffodils are toxic plants. If you’ve ever picked a daffodil, you might notice sap that comes out the bottom. Essentially, this sap can be irritating and toxic. I wear gloves whenever I’m working with them.
Do I Chill Daffodils Bulbs?
As you all know, I very much prefer to share my personal experiences. Therefore, I’ll share what my daffodils do in the garden here in Southern California, zone 10b. There’s also more information in my article on Fall Planted Bulbs.
First, I’ve never refrigerated my bulbs, despite a lot of information that says that bulbs should be chilled. While I can’t say I’ve grown every available variety, the varieties I have grown have always bloomed. Therefore, I’m led to believe that a chilling requirement could depend on variety. Some of the daffodils currently in my collection are: a traditional yellow from Home Depot, Bridal Crown, Barret Browning, and I’ve lost the tag on others. I guess I’ll have to see how these new varieties perform and report back.
Second, my daffodils come back ever year without being dug up or being subjected to any special treatment. Therefore, when going to plant your daffodils in-ground, you can plan for them to be there semi-permanently (unless you are planting daffodils in containers like I am this year). Up until this year, I’ve only grown daffodils in-ground and let them “naturalize” in the garden. Although I’ll be planting daffodils in containers this year, I do hope to have a more permanent place for them in the future (as I find containers to be high-maintainence in warm climates).
Planting Daffodils Under Fruit Trees
I also plan to plant a small number of daffodil bulbs under our apple trees too. Throughout history, daffodils have been planted in fruit orchards and left to naturalize. I love this, and have quite a few daffodils that have naturalized in my own garden, albeit on a much smaller scale. Therefore, I knew I wanted to find some space around the bases of our apple trees for daffodils. You might remember that we have one mature Anna’s apple tree, Ein Shemer, and two brand new apple trees (Pink Lady and Golden Dorsett). The plan is to place the bulbs in-ground at least six inches away from the trunk base of the trees.
I plant my daffodil bulbs as deep as 2-4 times the height of the bulb, or just eyeball it at 6 inches deep. While some references say to space the bulbs 3x the width of the bulb apart, I sometimes scooch closer too (or you can simply follow the instructions that came with your bulb order).
You can find more growing information for daffodils in an older article I wrote on Fall Planted Bulbs for Southern California.
Planting the Daffodils in Containers
I’m not ashamed to be a terra cotta pot hoarder. But really, can you believe that I didn’t have to buy any pots?
Since this is my first time planting daffodils in containers and working with new varieties, this is my little disclaimer to follow at your own risk!
After selecting terra cotta pots that had at least 12 inches of depth and drainage holes, it was time to start planting! In general, a good potting mix is best for planting bulbs in containers, but I didn’t have any on-hand. Admittedly, I took inventory of what we had in the garden shed and created my own DIY potting mix until the texture felt right. It was slightly moist. My potting mix did have some Down-to Earth organic flower fertilizer mixed in as well.
The daffodil pots will be kept on this nifty “plant shelf” which is essentially an old set of stairs that was going to be thrown away at a job site (thank you to my brother-in-law for knowing I’d use it). We have placed the shelf in a sheltered, shady spot where the daffodils can remain dormant and chill for the Winter season. When they sprout, the containers can be moved to sunnier locations.
Related Article: Fall & Winter Gardening Guide for Southern CA
What are you planting?
Arguably, our little area of Southern California isn’t going to win any awards for dramatic Fall foliage or epic apple picking, but there is something amazingly comforting to me about Fall gardening here and the little ways it still leaves me brimming with anticipation. What do you think? Are we in agreement?