A few tips for a colourful winter garden

Daffodils are bulbous herbaceous perennial plants. Bulbs build their new layers from dead leaves, therefore the proper knowledge on cutting them back is crucial. This includes both, how and why. If you would like to see your bulbs growing stronger year after year, our advice will help you achieve that. 


But before we get to the last green life cycle of daffodils of the season, let us describe how these lovely bulbous plants can enhance your garden, and how to maintain their bloom to its best. 


Daffodils are producing white, yellow and orange flowers with most popular and common being yellow. Yellow is the brightest colour representing the sun and will bring warmth into any winter settings. The flowering period of daffodils ranges from winter to late spring, providing months of colour if different varieties are thoughtfully combined.

Beautiful daffodil display
Beautiful daffodil display

The purpose of daffodils can be widely used in any garden. They can serve as fillers if interplanted in your border planting scheme, providing colour and life when the rest of your plants are dormant.  You can plant daffodils in the banks alongside the road, meadows or woodlands.


This time a year most trees dropped the leaves, allowing the sun to spit through the bare silhouettes of branches, and creating a perfect environment for your bulbs to thrive.


In size restricted spaces such as patios or balconies, you can use them to decorate your winter flower pots.


The flowers of daffodils tend to last longer as they don’t attract wildlife. Due to their poisonous nature, they are not favoured by rabbits or deer, making them an exceptional flower material for an indoor flower arrangement.


Maintenance of daffodils is simple and includes:


  • Deadheading
  • Cutting back
  • Occasional watering


Deadheading daffodils

Similarly, to any herbaceous perennial plants, daffodils can greatly benefit from deadheading. Beyond the obvious appearance reason, there is another one to consider. Deadheading promotes flowering. You might have heard this before, but how exactly does it work?


All plants want to reproduce, it’s their nature and purpose, therefore, they invest a significant amount of energy into flower production followed by seed formation. If the seed formation is disallowed, this energy is diverted into a new growth followed by flower production again.


When the flowers are spent, we recommend removal of the flower as well as its stem. This way even more energy can be redirected into a new growth as the bulb doesn’t have to supply the old stem with water and sugars (about this later).

Spent flowers of daffodils
Spent flowers of daffodils

Deadhead daffodils for as long as you can, and even if there aren’t any more flowers developing, the bulbs will benefit from an extra energy forced into their growth. 


Cutting back 

When the daffodils should be cut back? Simple answer to this, is anytime you feel they need it. There might be several reasons for their removal such as interfering with your planting scheme, looking untidy or you just want to clear up your woodland paths.  But before you proceed, read the next few lines to make the right decision as there are pluses and minuses. 


Cutting back daffodils whilst the leaves are green 

You might have come across some advice such as “If you cut daffodils back too soon, they will not bloom the following season”. Quite frankly, in my twenty years of experience I never experienced it. 


But here is the thing. While the leaves remain green, they photosynthesise. Photosynthesis is a process of sugar production, in presence of sunlight and carbon dioxide, which is important for a healthy plant growth and development. 


What does it mean? If you eliminate the green leaves too early, your bulbs will not grow as much as they would, but it doesn’t mean that you will sacrifice flowering next year. If you feel that their removal is a necessity, feel free to do so. 


Use secateurs, scissors or shears to cut them back as close to ground level as possible. Don’t try to pull the leaves out. In most cases, this will only result in lifting the bulbs.

Daffodils with healthy green leaves can be cut back if needed
Daffodils with healthy green leaves can be cut back if needed

Cutting back daffodils after the leaves gone yellow

When the leaves have turned yellow, the process of photosynthesis is no longer applicable, meaning your bulbs have done all the work by now. 


At this point, you can cut them back to ground level or pull them out carefully. To be on the safe side, we recommend putting pressure on the ground with one hand while pulling leaves out with another. By doing this, the bulbs will remain in the ground and their lifting will be prevented. 

When the leaves gone brown and dry 


At this point the leaves are barely connected to the bulbs and can be freely removed by hand. You can also be sure that your bulbs have met all their requirements.

Daffodil with yellow and brown leaves can be safely cut back
Daffodil with yellow and brown leaves can be safely cut back

Occasional watering 

Although the layers of bulbs serve as a water storage, in extreme conditions they can benefit from irregular watering. Especially in sandy soils, the moisture has not remained, and the bulbs can easily dry out. Be aware of your soil conditions prior to planting. 



Daffodils can be a great addition to any garden in any setting. They can bring the first colour to your outdoors as well as decorate your indoors. Looking after daffodils is not difficult and cutting them back can be done anytime as long as you are aware of the benefits and limitations.

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