Why Do Daffodils Bend Over? (Explained)

drooping daffodil

Why do daffodils bend over? I’ve seen this asked a few times now.

The reasons vary. Sometimes it can be down to human error, and other times it is something that is completely out of your hands.

The good news is though, your daffodils are leaning over for a reason and there nearly always is a way to perk them up.

So let’s find out more…

Why Do Daffodils Bend Over?

If your daffodils are bending over it is usually down to one of two reasons: 1) The weather is causing them to droop, whether it be strong winds, heavy rain, snow or even unseasonably high temperatures or 2) They have not been planted deep enough. Other reasons could be too much fertilizer in the soil, not enough water or they are going into dormancy.

Reason #1: It is Down to Mother Nature

Quite often the reason your daffodils are leaning over is down to the weather.

Where I live the weather is always unpredictable and unseasonably warm spring days can be followed almost immediately by a return to the cold conditions of winter.

We often get snow in March and sometimes April, and this can knock down daffodils that are in full bloom.

If it doesn’t knock them down completely, snow can accumulate on the leaves and flowers of your daffodil and cause them to bend or break.

Perhaps more likely to affect your daffodils in the spring are heavy rain and high winds.

daffodils in snow

As daffodils bloom they are a little top heavy and more easily affected by these weather conditions.

Heavy rain and strong winds, can cause them to lean over.

Or excessive rainfall can overload the soil with moisture and suffocate the root system of your daffodil again causing them to droop/

For me, high temperatures in the spring are less likely than rain, wind, or snow (unfortunately!), but that scenario is not out of the question completely.

Your daffodils could also be leaning over if they experience very warm temperatures as they are growing. The heat can cause the stems to stretch and be longer and thinner than normal.

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Fortunately, we can counteract the forces of mother nature, and there are a few solutions to these problems:

  • Use netting to protect your daffodils if heavy snowfall is likely.
  • Temporary fencing can shelter daffodils from high winds.
  • If there looks like there is going to be a sudden temperature rise, try and shade the area where your daffodils are growing.

Reason #2: They Weren’t Planted Deep Enough

Aside from the weather, perhaps the most common reason for daffodils bending over is because they have not been planted deep enough.

When you buy bulbs the packaging usually tells you how deep they should be planted. However, the rule of thumb is they should be planted at a depth of two to three times the height of the bulb.

If you do not plant your daffodil deep enough then they will not be anchored in the soil. As they grow and emerge from the ground, they will begin to lean over.

On a contrasting note, if you bury them too deeply then their shoots are unlikely to come out of the ground in time.

You should also try to ensure your daffodils are planted sufficiently far apart, maintaining a distance of 6 to 8 inches between bulbs is recommended.

If you think you may not have planted your daffodil deep enough, there is some action you can take to address the situation:

  • Wait until they stop blooming and the foliage dies off completely, then dig up the bulbs and replant them at the correct depth.
  • Alternatively, you can add mulch and topsoil to the ground where the bulbs are planted to give them more depth when they bloom the following spring.

Reason #3: It Might Be Due to Fertilizer Levels in the Soil

Whilst fertilizer is a good thing, too much (and sometimes too little), can cause your daffodils to bend over.

Over fertilization can cause salt buildup on the top of the soil, making it harder for your daffodils to take up water.

This can lead to stunted growth, leaves drying out and the daffodils appearing to lean over.

Likewise, the soil may not provide all the essential nutrients required for the optimum growth of your daffodil, so using too little can have a similar effect.

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The best way to deal with fertilizer issues is:

  • I always recommend erring on the side of caution and starting with a lower dosage of fertilizer initially. You can always increase it as time goes on.
  • If you are still unsure speak to an expert who should be able to advise you on your soil and how much fertilizer is needed.

Reason #4: It Could Be Caused By A Lack of Water

Remember daffodils are not woody plants, they are herbaceous.

It is only the water in the stem that keeps them upright.

If you find your daffodil is leaning over, it could simply need a good drink of water to replenish itself.

Reason #5: Some Species Droop More Than Others

daffodils in bloom

There are hundreds of varieties of daffodil and some have more obviously downward-facing trumpets than others

For instance, the petals of the Triandrus flare back and droop downwards, Cyclamineus daffodils have a corona that points downwards, the Thalia too has downward pointing blooms.

The point being, maybe your daffodil isn’t drooping, perhaps it is how it is supposed to look.

Always double-check the type of daffodil you have.

Reason #6: They Might Be Drooping Naturally

It is natural for daffodils to fall during their vegetation process.

Daffodil bulbs will go into dormancy when they are ready, even if you aren’t!

If it is a daffodil you have bought from a nursery, then you don’t know how long it was there.

So it might simply be that their time has come and they are dying and the foliage is wilting back.

Reason #7: It Might Be Because You Are Growing Them Indoors

I rarely grow daffodils indoors.

In my experience they aren’t good indoor plants, as it is usually too warm and too dry for them and as a result their blooms are short-lived.

So if you are wondering, why are my indoor daffodils drooping? Then I have found it hard to give them enough light indoors to keep them from bending over. Even full sun doesn’t seem to be enough.

Another issue with indoor daffodils is phototropism.

This is when they are so desperate they grow out in the direction of the light, and begin drooping as they strain themselves.

You can counteract this to some extent by rotating your pot every day or two.

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How to Keep Daffodils Upright

We’ve outlined above a few ways to make your daffodils stand up, depending upon what is causing them to droop.

In bad weather, you will need to protect them in some way, and when planting them making sure you do so at the right depth is vital.

Aside from that there are a few other methods you can try to keep your daffodils upright:

  • Support them with sticks. You can use anything from shop-bought floral stakes to twigs and branches you have picked up and added into the soil.
  • Tie them with ribbon. Tying a ribbon two-thirds of the way up the stem will keep your daffodils together, stop them from flopping over and allow them to mutually support each other.
  • Surround them with other plants. Having other plants nearby can provide support and structure for your daffodils to grow around.
  • Give them some alcohol. Scientists at Cornell University have found dilute solutions of alcohol can stunt the growth of plants. Stunted stems mean there is less chance of them bending over.

Final Thoughts

There are a few reasons why your daffodils might be bending over, but the most likely culprits are either the weather or because you have not buried them deeply enough.

We all know winter and spring can be unpredictable months, so if you think the weather is to blame there are simple measures you can put in place to stop your daffodils from being buffeted by heavy rain, high winds or even snowfall.

If you fear you haven’t planted them deeply enough, then you can put stakes up to support their growth. Then when they have grown and died back dig them up and replant at the proper depth ready for the following year.

Generally, if you are growing daffodils outdoors and they are drooping then you should be able to perk them up without too much trouble.

If you are growing them indoors, I do find they are more prone to flopping over and they are definitely happier outside.

Either way, I hope this helps!

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