Why Monty Don advises waiting to plant daffodil bulbs in the ground

The TV gardener says our drought-ravaged gardens are not yet ready for that cheerful symbol of springtime, the daffodil

yellow, white and apricot colored daffodils in bloom
(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Celebrated gardener, author and TV presenter Monty Don is dividing gardeners with his views on planting daffodils this year. 

He told viewers that due to the record high temperatures this hot, dry summer and drought conditions – with hosepipe bans still in place across much of the UK – the conditions just weren’t right to plant daffodil bulbs in the ground.

multicolored daffodils in bloom

(Image credit: Suttons)

Hard ground causing daffodil planting problems

Speaking on an episode of the BBC show Gardeners' World from Longmeadow, his own two-acre garden near Leominster in Herefordshire, UK, Monty Don said that at this time of year he would 'normally' be planting spring bulbs such as daffodils into the long grass, ready to carpet the ground in springtime with glorious banks of color. 

However, he admitted that the ground is still too hard, despite recent bouts of rain: 'There is no way I could get a bulb into the ground. The ground is still like iron.'

Monty Don wearing a suit and tie while presenting

Gardener and TV presenter Monty Don

(Image credit: Alamy)

When to plant

Monty Don's fellow TV gardener, Alan Titchmarsh, has even been known to plant his daffodils as early as August, if conditions allow. 'If you have ever speared an underground daffodil bulb with an errant fork in August you will have noticed that it has already started to put out roots,' he says. 

'That’s nature’s way of reminding you that the sooner you get them in the ground the better. Don’t worry. If you don’t plant them until September or even October, it is not the end of the world. But the sooner you can get them in the ground the better, provided that the earth is not dust-dry and as hard as nails.'

yellow narcissi in bloom

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Plenty of time left for planting

In the US, Dutch bulb expert Ben Rotteveel at Dutch Grown offers reassurance if you’re worrying about daffodil planting. 

'Daffodils are one of the easiest flower bulbs to grow and will thrive in most regions of North America,' he says. 'Just try to plant them when the soil is starting to cool down in the fall; they will need two to four weeks to settle in before the soil freezes. As a general rule, you can plant daffodil bulbs from September to December, as long as it isn’t too cold.'

The gardening experts at Homebase have a simple, fool-proof tip for the perfect moment for planting bulbs for spring, including daffodils: 'If the soil is dry, plant the day after it rains.'

If you're eager to make a start on your spring displays, follow Monty Don's lead and focus on planting up your daffodils in spring containers instead while you wait for more rain to arrive to help soften the ground. 

Jayne Dowle
Freelance writer

Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.