The Q&A Archives: Virus on Daffodils?

Question: I am a new gardener and have inherited a tremendous amount of mature but neglected gardens. This is my first early spring in my new home, and I have noticed many clumps of daffodils have some weird curling leaves with yellow streaks. Some of these clumps are flowering and apear to be otherwise fine. Some affected clumps are not flowering. I tried to find information on mosaic virus infecting daffodils, but came up with nothing. What is infecting my daffodils? Will it spread? I know some viruses attack plants and cause mottling and such without otherwise damaging the plant's health; is this the case? Or prehaps the problem just stems from our extemely odd winter weather this year? Help!

Also, I have some thick clumps (with no indication of disease) which are not flowering; do these need to be divided? I thought daffodils naturalized and dividing was unnecessary...

Answer: There are numerous possible reasons for the symptoms you have described, and based on your description it is impossible to determine the cause of the problem(s) with your daffodils. You might wish to contact the American Daffodil Society to see if they could suggest someone who could make an on-site diagnosis, or you might contact your County Extension (465-5115) to see if they can identify the cause and make appropriate control suggestions.

While daffodils are often considered "care free", some varieties do much better if divided periodically. In addition, too much shade, poor fertility, and competition from surrounding plants can all reduce bloom. Another common reason is failure to allow the foliage to go through its full cycle so it can grow, ripen and fade naturally after the blooms have faded. This is a very important period for the bulb as that is when it is replenished and rejuvenated for bloom the following year.

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