Daffodils are a beautiful, annual plant that are a staple of many outdoor gardens. While traditionally an outdoor plant, there’s no reason why we can’t bring daffodils indoors. What’s more, daffodils are an easy plant to “force”, or get to bloom out of season. Let’s learn how to grow daffodils indoors, and be able to enjoy this colorful plant year round.
There are dozens of different daffodil varieties available, many that come in different sizes and colors. Fortunately, the vast majority have similar care routines, so regardless of what you pick this information should be relevant.
Most relevant for indoor growers are the miniature or dwarf varieties of daffodils. These varieties will typically grow smaller than other kinds, and this makes them excellent for container growing. Traditional daffodils can grow quite large, and may require staking to prevent drooping and falling over. If you’d like to avoid that, go with a miniature variety which won’t grow as large.
Daffodils typically are planted in early fall and bloom in early spring. Indoors, you’ll likely see a similar pattern unless you purposely try to interrupt it. Forcing is the act of getting a plant to bloom outside of its standard bloom timing. Daffodils are an easy plant to force, and you can do so indoors at any time of year.
To start, daffodils need a period of roughly 12-16 weeks of cooler temperatures in the 40-45°F range. This is how the plant “knows” when it’s time for it to begin growing and bloom. Outdoors, this will come naturally, but indoors you’ll need to provide this yourself. Some people keep their bulbs in their fridge, but you can also keep them in a cool garage or just outdoors.
Note, that even if you’re growing on a standard spring bloom schedule you should provide this period of cold. This will mimic the plant’s natural seasonal cycle, and help ensure that it blooms at the correct time.
Once you’ve provided the appropriate amount of cold weather you can continue on with planting and normal care.
One last note, some nurseries will sell “forcing ready bulbs” or something to a similar effect. These are bulbs that have already been exposed to cold and ready to plant right away. If you can’t wait, or don’t want to do the process on your own, look for bulbs labeled this way.
Planting and Soil
Start with a high quality, well draining potting soil and fill your container of choice with it. You can use almost any size container to grow daffodils, but will get more or less flowers depending on the size. For a typical 6” diameter pot you can fit 3-5 daffodil bulbs or 5-7 miniature ones. Plant your bulbs with the “nose” sticking up and cover almost completely with soil leaving the “nose” slightly uncovered. Give your bulbs a healthy dose of water that soaks the soil.
For freshly planted bulbs, expose them to in-direct light that isn’t too intense. You’ll want to leave them in this location until the shoots start to turn green. Too much light too soon can burn out your plants before they have a chance to grow.
Once the shoots turn green, you can move them to a new location that gets lots of bright light. This is where they will live the rest of their bloom. You should also regularly turn to make sure they get even light and don’t bend.
In general, look to get 6+ hours of bright light per day. If you can’t hit this, use a small grow light to provide the light needed.
Aim to keep the soil of your daffodils moist but not soaked. Check the top of soil everyday, and water when it is dry to the touch.
When watering, make sure the soil is completely soaked. Look to see water begin to leak from the container’s drainage holes to be sure your plant has enough water. Once the plant blooms, you’ll typically be watering every couple of days.
Daffodils are not very nutrient hungry, and generally don’t need to be fertilized. Instead, opt to repot them each year to provide fresh, nutrient rich soil. You can simply dig up the bulbs and move them to a new container. Do this before exposing them to cold, and use fresh soil afterwards.
Growing Daffodils Indoors
Daffodils are an excellent indoor flower that is very easy to care for. It’s also a fun gardening project to force them to bloom out of season. If you’ve never “forced” a plant before, daffodils are an easy one to start with.
Growing Daffodil Indoors FAQ
What is Forcing a Daffodil?
Forcing is the act of getting a plant to bloom out of season. This isn’t exclusive to daffodils, but they are an easy plant to start with.
How Long Does It Take a Daffodil To Bloom?
After planting, daffodils should begin to flower in roughly 3-4 weeks.
When Do Daffodils Bloom?
Daffodils are an annual plant and will usually bloom in early spring each year. You can however force them to bloom at a different time using some of the tips above.