Refrigerating Daffodils

The lack of a proper winter here in the North of England, together with the continuing warm weather suggests that the daffodil flowering season may be two to three weeks early. Many exhibitors already use refrigerators to extend the flowering season and to enable a particularly good flower to be on the show table in successive weekends, but for new growers the following notes may prove useful. They are published with the kind permission of the Daffodil Society of Minnesota who include them in their show schedule.

Keeping Daffodils in a Refrigerator for an Extended Period of Time

Daffodils can be kept in a refrigerator for 4-5 weeks if necessary.  It is certainly not recommended, but sometimes is necessary if spring comes much earlier than the show.

  1. Keep the humidity high in modern frost-free refrigerators.  Use trays of water and/or wet towels.  Option: create a ‘tent’ with sticks and a plastic bag around the flowers to retain humidity.  The sticks hold the plastic away from the petals.
  2. Keep temperature in the 34-36 degree range, as low as possible without freezing the blooms.  A refrigerator thermometer is a must.
  3. Put blooms in deep containers, covering as much of the stem as possible.  Daffodils lose water through their stems, not the petals.
  4. MOST IMPORTANT: Do not store any fruit or aging produce in the same refrigerator!  Ethylene gasses from ripening fruit will kill daffodils.
  5. If a daffodil dies in the refrigerator, remove it as soon as found.  If the flower wilts, re-cut the stem to open the pores and replace in fresh water.
  6. Take out of the refrigerator the day before if:
    * The flower is not fully mature (e.g. color not fully developed).
    * The flower is not fully open (“hooded”).
    * The flower is looking downward (and that is not its natural pose) – place a light
    behind the bloom to get it to raise its head.  It is easier to adjust the pose downward
    but hard to raise the head of the flower.
    In all these cases, make sure it has 6 petals, no nicks in the petals, and that the cup/corona is in good shape.
  7. Before refrigerating, clean off any dirt or stains.  Use a damp q-tip or soft brush.  Look at the back as well as the front of the petals, and inside the cup.  Stains and dirt are almost impossible to get off after refrigeration.
  8. Pick in the morning if possible.
  9. Pick flowers if temperatures are predicted to go below 22 degrees.

10.  Division 6 flowers tend to last the longest in refrigeration.

11.  Daffodils that have yellow petals / yellow cups and yellow petals / red cups do not need sunlight to complete their development – they can be picked before they are completely open.

12.  Flowers that are reverse bicolor, have lemony colored petals, or have pink cups need sunlight to complete development.  They must be left on the plant in the ground to completely mature.