Growing Daffodil Bulbs: Sad Truth About Pink Daffodils

A pink daffodil
(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images)

I've always had an eye for the unusual when it comes to garden flowers. So it's not surprising that years ago when I saw pink daffodils advertised in a bulb catalog I thought, "Gotta get me some of that!" After all, daffodils are my favorite spring flowers and having pink ones would add another dimension of color to the flowerbeds.

Pink Daffodil Flowers

Unfortunately, pink daffodil bulbs were not offered locally and online orders had minimums that far exceeded a couple of packs of spring bulbs. Then one fall, my son brought home one of those dreaded school fundraisers and, to my delight, pink daffodil bulbs were offered. I ordered a few packs, helped out the school, and satisfied my desire to grow pink daffodils. Or so I thought.

Now, if you've ever seen pink daffodil bulbs advertised in a print or online catalog, you may have noticed these spring bulbs are a wonderfully attractive shade of pink. In some catalogs, they are almost an eye-popping color. Here's where truth in advertising can get a little sketchy. Some of those photos have been retouched. The truth is, pink daffodils are a bit of a fallacy.

You see, each year when my pink daffodils unfurl their petals, the flowers display a distinctive yellow cup or corona. After a few days, the cup begins to fade into a lovely shade of apricot. It's a very pretty color, but quite disappointing when one is hoping for pink.

Eventually, if our Ohio weather doesn't decide to dump a late snowstorm upon us, my daffodils fade to a beautiful pastel shade of pink. They are quite lovely, but as the flowers are by now mature, the "pink" in my pink daffodil flowers is quite short-lived.

Secret to Growing Pink Daffodils

As a gardener, I should feel blessed. I've heard of other gardeners with much less success at growing pink daffodil flowers. Complaints range from no pink to only shades of apricot as well as variability in color from one year to the next.

So let me share the secret to growing pink daffodils - it's shade. I planted my pink daffodil bulbs under a large maple tree. They receive direct morning sun and dappled afternoon shade. The tree is large, so even if the leaves haven't budded yet, the branches cast sufficient shadow to provide some dappling. 

After my narcissus blooms fade, I deadhead my daffodils and leave the foliage until it dies back naturally. This allows the bulbs to gather the most energy for flower production the next spring. Since my daffodils aren't pink until the end of their blooming period, I'm hoping that a stronger flower will last longer.

There you have it - the disheartening truth about pink daffodils. If I'm lucky, I do have beautiful light pinkish daffodils for a few days each year. Being the harbingers of spring, I know my pink daffodils are only the first of many beautiful and unusual flowers of the season.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.