I’ve noticed a lot of daffodil plants still lurking around a lot of people’s flower beds this year well into the summer months. Daffodil blooms are one of the earliest flowers to appear after the long cold winter, and while the blooms come and go in March, the green stems and leaves of the plant seem to remain indefinitely. Many people seem to shy away from cutting Daffodils back until the greens are completely shriveled, for fear of damaging the plant. Unfortunately, cautious gardeners end up with the flopping leaves laying over their sidewalks and garden borders for the first several months of summer, and that really doesn’t look too good.
A good general rule is to cut back daffodil greens in May if you haven’t already. It is important to allow all the flowers on the plant to dry up and fall off, as the plant does need to complete it’s reproductive cycle, and transfer it’s energy from flower production back into the bulb for next year’s bloom. There do not need to be endless months of shaggy growth left on the plant before trimming though. Once the leaves of a Daffodil plant begin to yellow and go limp, either bundle clusters of the greens in groups with rubber bands, or loop them over each other as shown above. These two methods will keep your garden looking crisp while assisting the plant into it’s dormancy period.
I usually keep plants in a form like this for one week, and then trim the plant down to about one inch from the ground. For plants that are well into their yellowing phase, and those that are completely prostrate on the ground, immediately trimming the plant to one inch from the soil line will safely and effectively prepare the plant for the summer weather without harming the plant in any way. Daffodils can then die back the final inch of growth below the flowering zone of your summer plants, which will prevent your spring bloomers from detracting from the summer flowers..
HINT: Do not expect Daffodil greens to dry up and look obviously dead before you trim them back to the ground, they are hearty plants that do not die back completely on their own until late summer.
Photo courtesy of: clspeace