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Dead-loss daff blooms

EVERY year the flower buds on this clump of special daffodils turn brown and fail to flower. There's no sign of fungal disease, so could they be getting frosted? They are right by the terrace steps and others there are ok. Any suggestions?


IT looks as if the problem is lack of water rather than a pest or disease. The damage can sometimes be caused weeks before you see the symptoms and some varieties are more prone to it than others, hence not all your daffodils are affected.

The best treatment is to improve the water retention properties of your soil. A layer of mulch is the most practicable way of conserving soil moisture.

You could use organic materials like bark, compost, pea straw or peat - apply them 6-8cm deep over the area when the bulbs are dormant.

The same effect can be had from white pebbles or light-coloured gravel which reflect heat, keeping the soil cool, as well as reducing moisture loss.

You might go so far as to poke holes around the clump of bulbs and pour in some water retention granules such as Waterwell or Crystal Rain, but bear in mind you'll need to reapply these every year.

For this sort of treatment to work well, the soil must be moist first, so get out the hose first or wait until after a good shower of rain.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 140, 2004, Page 27

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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Last updated: June 30, 2005