Double Daffodils Are the Petal-Packed Boost Your Spring Garden Needs
Few blooms look as cheerful in spring as warm yellow or crisp white daffodils popping up from thawing soil. And the most stunning varieties are double daffodils, which have so many extra petals that you could almost mistake them for peony flowers or maybe small roses. Available in several dazzling shades and color combos, plus sizes and bloom times, double-flowered daffodil varieties are just as easy to grow and care for as regular varieties of daffodils. All you have to do is plant to bulbs in the fall and they'll return year after year to fill your garden with their amazing flowers.
What Are Double Daffodils?
Most double varieties still have the six petals in a star shape that makes daffodils instantly recognizable. But in their centers, they have a second ring of petals (hence the term "double") or extra frilly cups. Like double tulips, when they bloom they're an instant showstopper.
How to Plant Double Daffodils
The best time to plant double daffodils is in the fall, pretty much anytime before the ground freezes. You’ll want to plant them about 4 to 6 inches deep, and 4 to 10 inches apart (smaller bulbs can be as close as 4 inches, but larger bulbs need more space). After planting, water the bulbs well to get rid of any air pockets in the soil and encourage their roots to grow.
How to Grow Double Daffodils
Double daffodils are hardy in USDA Zones 3-9, so you'll only need to plant the bulbs once, and they should come back each spring for decades. Like regular daffodils, they’ll grow best in rich, well-drained soil; the bulbs can rot if they’re left sitting in water, so good drainage is a must. The plants also need full sun to flower, so make sure you’re growing them in a spot where they’ll get at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Usually, double varieties will bloom in mid- to late spring, a little later than regular daffodils.
Part of their easy care means you don’t have to worry about deadheading once the blooms start to wilt. Just let them die back naturally, and let the foliage grow freely (this helps replenish the bulbs so they can bloom again next year). Once the foliage starts to wither and turn yellow, cut it off close to the ground or gently pull out the loose leaves and stems and add them to your compost pile. If you start noticing that the blooms and foliage aren’t as vibrant or healthy after a few years, divide the plants by digging up the bulbs after the foliage dies back and replanting with more space between them.
Most varieties also have the advantage of being deer- and rabbit-resistant, so any hungry critters in your neighborhood will usually pass them by. You can also grow the bulbs in containers or force them indoors. For forcing, you’ll need to buy pre-chilled bulbs (or chill them yourself) in the fall or late winter; then, you can set the bulb on top of a jar or forcing vase filled with water. Or force in a pot by planting the bulbs so that the top third sticks out above the soil. Then keep the bulbs in a sunny spot and wait for the flowers to bloom.
Best Double Daffodil Varieties
Like regular daffodils, double varieties can bloom in bright, sunny yellow, pure white, blush pink, or light orange. Most will grow between 1 and 3 feet tall. One of the most popular varieties, ‘Tahiti’ ($32 for $50 bulbs, Dutch Grown) has soft yellow petals with smaller orange petals near the center for a two-tone effect that calls to mind a tropical sunset. ‘Tahiti’ has also won multiple awards, including the Wister Award from the American Daffodil Society and the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
If you love the ultra-bright yellow-orange colors most commonly associated with daffodils, ‘Golden Ducat’ ($5 for 5 bulbs, Etsy) is another popular variety with sunny yellow flowers. When in bloom, its huge flowers can measure 4 inches across or more. And if you just can't make up your mind, or you'd like a sampling of several varieties, this Kitchen Sink Mixture ($30, QVC) is one way you can enjoy all the beauty that daffodils have to offer.