Whether you call them daffodils, jonquils, or narcissus, these cheery blooms are a sure sign of spring, and fall is when these bulbs should be planted.
Daffodils are hardy in Zones 3-7 or 4-9, depending on cultivar or species. If you live in the South (Zone 8 or warmer), precool your bulbs before planting by placing them in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for 6 to 8 weeks prior to planting; don't store with apples, which emit ethylene gas that prevents bulbs from blooming.
Prepare the soil by tilling 6 to 12 inches deep; amend with compost and sand for drainage. Daffodils can handle shade from deciduous trees, but not permanent shade cast by evergreens. Plant bulbs pointy sides up, 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart; for a 100-square-foot bed, you'll need 400 bulbs. In the North, try to plant your bulbs 6 to 10 inches deep -- they'll be less likely to be disturbed by frost heaves or the cultivation of later-blooming flowers.
Avoid planting too few daffs; they look best planted en masse. At about $1 a bulb in the stores, however, they aren't cheap; for large purchases, a better source is mail-order catalogs. One such is Van Engelen, Inc. (860-567-8734; www.vanengelen.com), which sells bulbs in bulk, making the per-bulb price affordable. Buy bulbs that are top-size (DNI) or at least DNII; you may wait years for smaller bulbs (DNIII) to bloom.
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