Daffodil seeds are easy to get


Daffodils have lost the need to be pollinated because they are grown from bulbs! The only reason they still have flowers is that the bulbs are selected from those that produce the nicest blooms. Plant breeders keep seed-fertile varieties in order to continue hybridizing. But these don’t make it to market: only bulbs grown out from them will be sold.

You don’t see a lot of bees or other pollinators on hybrid roses, either. They are propagated almost entirely from cuttings. Incidentally, if your hybrid rose gets frost-killed, but the rootstock survives, you’ll have a nice multiflora with tiny white blossoms, heady scent and a cloud of bees around it.

It is incorrect to say that daffodils have lost the need to be pollinated because they are grown from bulbs. No cause and effect relationship exists between the two. Many, many plants can reproduce by either vegetative or sexual means, but plants that are reproduced by bulbs, corms, rhizomes, or leaf cuttings do not lose their ability to reproduce by seed because of it. In fact, except for occasional mutations, each vegetative reproduction is a clone of its progenitor with the same seed-producing ability.

What daffodils (and many other flowers) have lost in the process of selection and hybridization is the ability to attract insects with sweet-tasting nectar. The loss came about when breeders selecting for specific flower traits ignored the nectar-producing capabilities. But most daffodils still produce viable pollen and seed.

Plant breeders are not keeping the fertile varieties all to themselves. They have cultivars which are particularly useful, but they are not sacrosanct. When I was breeding daffodils I started with just the blooms in my garden. It is easy to get seed: just take a toothpick and transfer the pollen from one flower to the stigma of a different flower. It is the same thing the pollinators would do if they were still attracted to the blooms.

You can tell when you get seed because the ovary gets really large; a seed-bearing daffodil is easy to spot and the seeds are big and easy to handle. You can replant the seed right away or store it and plant it in the fall. In the spring you will get a new daffodil plant that looks a lot like a blade of grass. And in seven or eight years it will bloom for the first time—which is the real reason you can’t find daffodil seeds at your local garden store: who would buy them?

Sometimes daffodils will cross after a visit by a curious insect. If you have a lot of daffodils, check for a very fat ovary after the flowers have withered and dried. Collect the pods before the the seeds drop to the ground.

Now about roses. You say if your rootstock survives “you’ll have a nice multiflora with tiny white blossoms, heady scent and a cloud of bees around it.” That may be true, but it depends on the rootstock that was used. Different rootstocks are favored for certain climates and soil types.

Nevertheless, if your rootstock had pink flowers before it was grafted, it will have pink flowers if allowed to re-sprout. If the rootstock was a variety not particularly attractive to insects, it won’t suddenly become attractive if allowed to re-sprout. The important point is that you don’t know what kind of flower you will get from your rootstock unless you know what species or cultivar it is.




  • Wo!I’m wrong! Thanks for the information, Rusty. Sorry, everyone – feel free to save seed from your daffodils and see what you get.
    There are some plant species that have lost the ability to set seed, from being cultivated vegetatively for so long. French Tarragon comes to mind.

    • Nancy,

      No need to be sorry, there’s just so much stuff to know and everyone knows different things. Besides, it’s great stuff to talk and write about. So interesting.

  • Have quite a few varieties of daffodils. I am looking for a quick way to grow from seed. Each year I chop off the seed pod so energy goes to next year’s production. If I cut the swollen pod into several sections and let them fall to the ground, what are the chances of them growing?

    • Ellen,

      Let the seed mature on the plant. Once the pod begins to get dry, harvest the seeds and plant them right away. They will sprout the following spring and look very much like grass for the first and second year. Just be patient. On average it takes about seven years for the bulb to get big enough to form a flower.

  • Several of my daffodils have seed pods forming, and I was just planning to let them drop where they will.

  • Wow, I never knew the daffodil had seeds. I just dug up wild ones (their blossom looked like the ones in your picture in the barrel). I brought them to my house and planted them to line the walkway. They already bloomed in the last few weeks and when I separated and planted the bulbs, it seemed the bulbs which I thought would be big and hard, instead were a little soft and many of them very small. It made me wonder if they are still good. Or do the bulbs just get so spent after blooming flowers that they are sort of empty after they’ve spent all that energy, putting their everything into those awesome daffodil blossoms?

    We just got 2 days of healthy rain after I planted them and tonight and tomorrow it will go into the 20s again, though we’ve had an unusually warm winter this year in GA. I’m hoping they will think it’s winter again, then next week it will get warm, and I’m hoping they will be fooled into thinking it’s Spring again and I will get what I really want! Daffodils! Nah! I guess I’m dreaming…. I know I know. My favorite flower forever!

    While doing this transplanting I noticed, for the first time a green bulb like part of the top where the flowers usually appear! Wow! Is that the seed pod?

    So before I found this site, I had just turned over about 3 of those green leaves with those pods and planted them, pod down, upside-down, at the end of the row. Maybe I should go back, pull them up, let them dry and pop them open so they have a chance? or just leave them alone and wait 7 years?

    I just went outside and looked at my rows of laying-down-well-watered-daffodils and saw a more green bulbs at the tops of the leaves… I’ll wait and let them turn brown and get the seeds out of them like you suggest… but I want flowers from them next Spring!

    • U,

      Yes, as in most flowers the seeds form in the ovary at the base of the petals. It enlarges as the seeds enlarge. But the bulbs themselves develop mostly after flowering, so you want to let the bulbs grow and store nutrition until they die back naturally. So once the leaves start to turn yellow and collapse, then it is safe to dig the bulbs.

  • Thank you for your reply! Wow, I never knew that seeds form usually at the base of the flower petals. I guess I’ve never gotten into flowers, except for loving my daffodils…. and their awesome scent. I’ve always felt they smell just like Spring itself. mmmmm!

    Well, from what you said I guess the ones I’ve planted already probably won’t come up next spring since I probably did it at the worst time? But, if I can remember, I’ll go back to where I got them, and stick a marker of some sort in the middle of each bunch so I can go back later and dig them up. I guess I’ll plant them right next to the ones I just planted… but later in the year. If both lines come up I’ll really have a sweetly lined dream walkway. I can’t wait!

    Another question, please. Do you know if daffodils will grow right next to monkey grass? The leaves almost look the same, but the monkey grass stays all year long. I planted a scant row of monkey grass last year, and I can wait to see if it comes in fuller this year. My neighbor tried to do me a favor by mowing my yard for me when my lawn mower went out and he mowed it all down! Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, and it was nice of him. Monkey grass will grow back, but I wondered if daffodils will conflict in any way with it. I planted them both in lines about 5 inches away from each other; the monkey grass right next to the walkway and the daffodils out in the yard a bit.

    Thanks for you help!

  • Liriope spicata is a species of low, herbaceous flowering plants from East Asia. Common names include creeping lilyturf, creeping liriope, lilyturf, and monkey grass.
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    OK, Thanks anyway…, since I read that when putting daffodils in a vase with other flowers it will somewhat do away with the other flowers in the vase because of some toxic poison or something… (sorry I don’t remember all the details, just the gist of it…) I just wondered if you know if it does the same bad thing when it grows next to other plants. Thanks 😉

    • U,

      It’s mostly a problem with cut flowers. The toxin oozes out of the cut stem into the vase and causes the other flowers in the vase to wither. For example, you can grow tulips and daffodils in the same garden, no problem. But you can’t put cut ones in the same vase.

  • Do I need to grow the seedlings indoors if I live in zone 5a in western Massachusetts? I read somewhere they are supposed to grow indoors for 1 year but I’m going that’s wrong. I’ve hand fertilized 50 or so daffodils and I’m hoping for hundreds of seedlings each year so I can plant a blaze of yellow glory that will reveal itself in 7 years (and keep growing every year thereafter… Imagine the exponential increase after year 7!!!!)

    • DW,

      I’ve never heard of growing them indoors. Daffodils are pretty tough when it comes to winter conditions. Still, my area is warmer so I don’t know for sure.

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