‘While you can safely remove spent daffodil flowers as they die off, you should not cut back daffodil leaves just yet. Unlike deadheading, cutting back daffodils too early will damage the plant,’ says Rachel Crow, Homes & Gardens’ gardening expert.  So, while you have already mastered how to plant daffodil bulbs in fall, now is the time to discover when to cut back daffodils in spring to ensure they return next year, as they will if treated properly.

When to cut back daffodils?

You can cut back daffodils only once the leaves have turned yellow. ‘It’s important to leave daffodils to die down naturally to put energy back into the bulb to produce the following spring’s flowers,’ continues Rachel Crow. ‘If you cut the leaves back before they have turned yellow, you will not get any flowers next year.’ If you are looking for a more accurate timing for cutting back daffodils, the experts at the American Daffodil Society (opens in new tab) suggest that this will be ‘from six weeks to six months, depending on where you live and the cultivars you grow.’ They clarify: ‘Daffodils continue to absorb nutrients for about six weeks after the blooms have died. During this time they need plenty of sunshine and a regular supply of water. As daffodil bulbs are built, the leaves on the plant turn yellow and eventually die back.’

When should daffodils be deadheaded?

Daffodils can be deadheaded as and when the flowers die off. Doing this will help keep your flower beds looking neater and won’t hurt the plants, though it won’t encourage more flowering either. That said, if you see seedpods forming, remove them, since they will ‘steal’ energy that could be better directed back at the bulbs. 

Should I tie up daffodils before cutting them back?

You should not tie up daffodils while waiting for the foliage to yellow before cutting them back, as this will inhibit the leaves’ absorption of sunlight and water. Instead, let them die back naturally.  If you find the daffodils’ yellowing leaves are spoiling the look of your flower beds, the best option is to surround daffodils with other spring plants that will hide the dying leaves.