The Q&A Archives: Rotten Daffodil Bulb

Question: What does a healthy daffodil bulb look like when dug up? I planted a number of daffodils last fall. Only a portion of them came up and bloomed. Some came up only a few inches and stopped. I've gotten several ideas of what the problem may be from your Q&A. However, after digging up the failed bulbs I feel as though I am looking at a rotted bulb. Just exactly how firm should a daffodil bulb be if you dig it up in the spring - what should it look like?

Answer: At blooming time the bulbs seem to me to be a bit less firm than when they were planted, but this is in proportion to the fact that they are a bit depleted from having produced the bloom and foliage and have not grown and replenished themselves for the season yet. In any case they should not be smushy, discolored or smell bad. They should still be quite recognizable as daffodil bulbs. If they have not grown there are some possible explanations, varying from the location being too wet and causing them to rot, the soil being a heavy clay and causing them to rot, or even being planted very late and reflecting insufficient chilling or simply "running late" as a consequence... Remember too that some bulbs intended for forcing (such as Paperwhites) are not hardy and would freeze and rot if planted outdoors in a cold winter area.

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