“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty. Violets dim, but sweeter than the kids of Juno’s eye.” Shakespeare described a natural pair of spring woodland companion plants in A Winter’s Tale. He goes on to mention primrose, oxlips and lilies, plants which grow naturally as daffodil companion plants. Natural groups of flowers that bloom in succession or a complimentary way have inspired artists and poets for centuries. Companion planting allows even a small flower patch to be inspiring.
Companion Planting with Daffodils
Companion planting is planting different plants near each other to enhance each other’s beauty, growth, and flavor or to protect each other from pests. Companion planting is also used to maximize space in the garden.
Daffodils make great companion plants because they provide warm, sunny color in the spring, are easy to tuck in amongst already established plants, and deter pests. Daffodils bloom when many flowering shrubs and perennials are just waking from their winter dormancy. Their bulbs also contain a toxin that only a few insects can eat and deters deer, rabbits and other rodents. Squirrels may dig them up, but they don’t eat them.
Daffodils bloom in early spring for about six weeks, then their flowers die back, leaving green grassy foliage that the bulb drains energy from to prepare it for a long dormancy and next year’s new growth. Daffodil foliage should only be cut back once it turns yellow and withers. Yellowing patches of daffodil foliage can look bad, so good companion plants for daffodils will fill in at this time, covering the unsightly mess.
Because of their early spring color and pest deterrence, use daffodils as companion plants for flowers that bloom later or are garden pest’s favorite.
What to Plant with Daffodils
When companion planting with daffodils, you’ll want to include other spring-flowering plants that complement the yellow hues in daffodils. As Shakespeare mentioned, the dark green foliage and small but deep purple blooms of violets set against the grassy green foliage and bright yellow flowers of daffodils add an eye-catching contrast to an early spring landscape.
Other bulbs that bloom beautifully next to daffodils include:
The following also make excellent spring blooming daffodil companion plants:
For continuous yellow color patches in the garden use:
Other later season blooming companion plants for daffodils include:
- Blue-eyed grass
- Goat’s beard
- Coral bells
When companion planting with daffodils for season long color, plant daffodils about 3-6 inches from later blooming plants. The daffodils will provide early spring color, while later blooming plants are just leafing and budding, then the later blooming plant will cover up and deter from the die back of the daffodils in late spring.