Paperwhites for a Showy Holiday!


Now is the time to force narcissus bulbs for fragrant paperwhites

By FamilyTime

 

With their delicate blooms, tall, slender stalks, and heady aroma, paperwhites are a welcome holiday addition. But don’t stop with December. Force these glorious flowers all winter long.

Order the bulbs off the Internet or buy them at the local garden store. If you want to fill your house with blooms past the holidays, buy a good number of bulbs. You get one flower for each bulb.

How to Plant Paperwhites
Choose a shallow bowl that is three or four inches deep. Fill it with some decorative stones or gravel. You can use potting soil if you prefer, but since the flowers do  not require it, the stones are more fun — and can be reused.

Insert the bulbs in the stones just until they sit securely, with the sprouting end facing upwards. If you plant them with no more than an inch or less between them you will get a pretty show. Do not worry about crowding them.

For more drama, plant a single bulb in a narrow glass vase filled with pretty gravel. Four or five of these along a window sill or table are lovely.

Add water to the bowl so that it covers the base of the bulb. Do not cover the bulbs with water. Not only can this cause them to shift in place, but could bring on rot. Keep the water level constant while the paperwhites grow and bloom.

If you plant the bulbs in soil, keep it moist. Do not drown the soil with water.

Waiting for Blooms
Set the bowl in a cool, dim area. This could be on a shelf or behind a door. After about two weeks, the roots will have developed so that they hold the bulbs in place and green sprouts will be visible.

At this point, move the paperwhites to a sunny window. In about a month, you will be rewarded with bright white blooms.

The flowers will bloom for several weeks and fill the room with a sweet, earthy fragrance. When the blooms die, remove the bulbs.

If you choose, snip the stems off the bulbs but leave the leaves. Toss them in a basket or bowl in a sunny window and come spring, transplant them outdoors. They will flower after two or three years, when they have had time to regain their energy.

Constant Blooms
Plant bulbs in succession in several containers and at different times so that you will have paperwhites filling your house all winter.

By the time the last blooms fade in the early spring, daffodils and jonquils, both close cousins to the paperwhite narcissus, will be poking their happy heads through the soil in the garden!