The Q&A Archives: Fertilizing daffodils

Question: I notice that the instructions for daffodils in my bulb book say to add 1/2 pound of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer per 100-foot area. I have a bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer. How much should I add? Thomas Johnson Baldwin Park, CA

Answer: It's simple arithmetic, explains Bill Tribe, owner of Oregon Trail Daffodils, which grows more than two acres of daffodils in Corbet, Oregon. The 10-10-10 analysis on your fertilizer bag means that bag contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium fertilizer. To find out how much actual nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium you have, simply multiply the percentage (10%) of each nutrient by the weight of the bag. If you have a 40-pound bag of 10-10-10, for example, and you applied the whole bag of fertilizer, you'd be adding 4 pounds of nitrogen, 4 pounds of phosphorus and 4 pounds of potassium. You only need 1/2 pound of actual N-P-K in the 100-foot bed, which is 1/8 of the 4 pounds of each nutrient in the whole bag. So divide the 40 pounds total weight of the bag by 8, and you get 5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer to add to the bed. Daffodils are not heavy feeders, so broadcasting 1/2 pound of 10-10-10 over a 100-foot area, plus adding a handful of compost or composted manure per planting hole, should last the bulbs many years. We've grown our daffodils in one field for six years, adding fertilizer to the planting hole only, and they still bloom beautifully, notes Tribe.

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