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Collecting and Growing Daffodils from Seed: A Comprehensive Guide

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Growing daffodils from seeds is a meticulous but gratifying process that introduces a wonderful variety to your garden.

Unlike planting bulbs, seeds require more time and care to flourish, but the reward of seeing unique blooms is well worth the effort. Here’s how to start your journey of growing daffodils from seed.

Understand Daffodil Seeds

The first step in your daffodil propagation journey is to understand the seeds. Daffodil seeds reach maturity when their pod turns yellow and begins to split.

These seeds are black and shiny when they are ready to be harvested. Timing this right is crucial as premature seeds will not germinate and overripe seeds might be lost to the elements.

Collect Seeds Now

Seed collection should be done in late spring or early summer, depending on your local climate conditions. To collect daffodil seeds, follow these steps:

Timing is Key

Monitor the seed pods closely as spring progresses. The perfect time for collection is just as the pods begin to split but before they fully open and disperse their seeds.

Proper Collection Method

Using scissors or a sharp knife, carefully cut the stem holding the seed pod. Place the entire pod into a paper bag. This method helps to catch any seeds that might fall out as the pod dries and splits further.

Once collected, the seed pods should be stored in a dry place where they can continue to dry without losing any seeds.

After a few days in the bag, the pods will have opened completely, and you can gently shake the bag to release the seeds. Remove any plant debris and store the seeds in labeled envelopes in a cool, dry place.

Proper storage is essential as it prevents moisture from spoiling the seeds and extends their viability until you are ready to plant them.

Store Seeds Properly

Daffodil seeds are best sown fresh but can be stored if sowing needs to be delayed. Store your seeds in a cool, dry place.

A common method is to keep them in paper envelopes inside a sealed container, such as a tin or plastic box, which can then be placed in a refrigerator or a cool pantry.

This method mimics the natural cooling period seeds would experience over winter, which helps maintain their viability.

Sow Seeds Without Delay

When autumn arrives, it’s time to sow the seeds. This timing mimics the seeds’ natural germination cycle, where they would naturally fall to the ground and spend the winter in dormancy before sprouting in spring. Here’s how to effectively sow your daffodil seeds:

Prepare the Soil

Use a well-draining seed starting mix in pots or trays to avoid waterlogging, which could cause the seeds to rot. Ensure the containers have adequate drainage holes.

Sowing Depth and Spacing

Plant the seeds 1-2 inches deep, allowing a few inches between each seed to give each seedling enough space to grow without crowding.


Place the pots in a cold frame or an unheated greenhouse. These environments protect the seeds from extreme winter weather while still exposing them to the cold necessary to break their dormancy.

Ensure Germination

Daffodil seeds typically require a period of cold stratification to germinate, a process already initiated by autumn planting.

Germination can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, so patience is key. Throughout the winter, it’s crucial to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Checking the moisture levels every few weeks and adding water if the top inch of soil feels dry should suffice. As the weather begins to warm in spring, you should start to see signs of germination.

Care for Seedlings Rigorously

Once your seeds have germinated, the seedlings will require careful attention as they develop:


Continue to keep the soil consistently moist. Daffodil seedlings are sensitive to drought, so regular watering is essential, especially during dry spells in spring and summer.


When the seedlings are one year old, start applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer each spring to support healthy growth. This will provide the necessary nutrients for the seedlings as they develop.

During the first two years, the seedlings will grow slowly, developing their root systems and foliage. They are not yet ready to produce flowers, and moving them too early can disrupt their growth.

Transplant Seedlings Decisively

Transplantation is a critical step in the life cycle of seed-grown daffodils. Typically, seedlings are ready to be moved to their final growing spots in the garden after two years of growth in their initial pots:

When to Transplant

The best time to transplant daffodil seedlings is in the fall, about 2-3 years after germination when they have developed a robust root system.

How to Transplant

Carefully dig up the young plants, keeping as much of the root intact as possible. Transplant them to well-prepared soil that has been loosened and enriched with compost to promote good drainage and nutrient availability.

Plant the seedlings about 6 inches apart and at the same depth they were growing in their pots to allow for natural spreading.

Achieve Mature Growth

After transplanting, it will still take a few more years for the plants to mature fully and start producing flowers.

Daffodils grown from seeds typically begin to flower in their third to fifth year, depending on the variety and growing conditions:


Be patient, as it may take several seasons before you see the first blooms. This long lead time is normal for seed-grown daffodils.

Ongoing Care

Continue regular feeding and watering. As the plants mature, divide clumps every 3-4 years to prevent overcrowding and to maintain the health of the plants.

Growing daffodils from seeds is a long-term commitment that requires patience and dedication. However, the diversity and sense of achievement when these beautiful flowers finally bloom are unmatched.

Keep detailed records of your planting to track growth and varieties, and most importantly, enjoy the process of nurturing these splendid flowers from seed to bloom.

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