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Daffodils Flower Killer Or Urban Legend?

This afternoon I received a call from Sandy (Flower Shop Network customer service rep).  With the tone of “say it isn’t so, Joe”, she asked me if daffodils would kill the other flowers in a mixed flower arrangement.  As a defender of the lovely yellow flowers I replied, “I don’t think so.”  It seems that she had been told that daffodils would kill other cut flowers.  As I hung up the phone I wondered, why would someone speak slanderously about this delicate flower.

Now I was on a mission.  I needed to find out if this was an urban legend or some daffodil secret I knew nothing of.  I watch a lot of crime shows, CSI, Criminals Minds and my favorite The Mentalist.  So I applied a few of their techniques to obtain my answer.

Here is what I know about daffodils. They are in the narcissus family and members of the narcissus family when cut produce a harmful stem clogging sap.

Here is what I know about making cut flowers last. Pre-treatments and pre-conditioning are a must for cut flowers.  Pre-treatments are usually done by the growers.  Pre-conditioning is a task performed by the receiving florist and very important for the longevity of cut flowers.  Most flowers receive the same pre-conditioning as soon as they hit the door and you can go from one variety to another without any problems.

However, certain flowers need special procedures to ensure their health and the health of the flowers around them.  This is true in the case of daffodils.  They must be conditioned separately from all other flowers. Why? Because of the sap that drains from the stems when you cut them.  If the sap is absorbed by the other flowers, it will clog their stems thus shutting off their ability to stay hydrated.

OK,  here is where I see Urban Legend status emerging.

Some florist some where didn’t pre-condition their daffodils correctly.  When flowers started dying in mixed flower arrangements containing daffodils, they blame the daffodils and not the conditioning practices of their shop.  (This is kind of like blaming drinking water for cholera instead of the unsanitary practices that allowed waste material to flowing into the drinking water.)  Of course this florist started spreading the word and all of a sudden a misunderstanding became an Urban Legend. This has probably caused some wonderful florists to believe that daffodils are flower killers. When in actuality, they can live harmonious with others as long as they are conditioned properly.

So for those of you convinced that the Urban Legend about Daffodils is true, try this experiment.  Condition some daffodils the correct way and then arrange them with some flowers.  Wait and watch.  Do they last as long as any mixed flower arrangement would.

Follow these pre-conditioning steps for daffodils.

1.  Prepare your daffodils after all other flowers have been prepped.

2.  Fill a container with cool water and add a professional floral food.  The water in the container should be shallow to avoid stem deterioration in the daffodils.

3. Cut at least 1/2″ off of the daffodil stem and place in the container with the floral solution.

4. Leave the daffodils in the container for at least 6 hours before you use them.

5. DO NOT recut the stems when arranging them.  Cutting them will release the sap and you don’t want that to happen.

If you follow these steps, you shouldn’t have any trouble using daffodils with other flowers.  Of course the best way to use daffodils with other flowers is in floral foam arrangements.  You will have less of a chance of sap leakage in a foam arrangement than in a vase arrangement.

I hope my investigative skills have proven that the killer daffodil is an urban legend based on a simple misunderstanding.

***Tip for working with daffodils – For support insert a chenille stem or a section of leather leaf stem into the hollow of a daffodil stem and then insert it into the floral foam.***


  1. I never knew that, not about the daffodil’s being so called killers or the reason for it. Thanks for enriching my day.

  2. online personal loans says:

    wow i also didnt know that aboput daffodils. i still think there really pretty flowers. thanks for the information.

  3. Online Marketing Solutions says:

    Mixed flower arrangements are my favorite and I had no idea about all the work that went into preparing an arrangement. Is there anyway to tell if they’ve been pretreated? or should you always do what you suggest above when getting a bouquet of flowers?

  4. I wouldn’t call that an urban legend. I would say that it is at least 80% true. I regularly cut my flowers to keep them fresh. Also, that would be a lot of prep for someone just picking flowers out of their garden to put in a vase.

    But thanks for the info on how to work with the “killers” if I have the time. ;)

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