FORCING PAPERWHITE BULBS
If you are like me, you probably hate seeing
Christmas articles before Thanksgiving.
Now, I'm giving you Christmas tips before Halloween. Please, do not quit reading.
really is a necessary time to tell you about these wonderful bulbs because they
will take from one to two months to bloom indoors. Add to that the ordering and mail time, and you don’t have
any time to waste if you want flowers for Christmas gifts.
I'm talking the wonderfully fragrant paperwhites
you can plant in pebbles and water.
They are so uncomplicated.
They can perfume your house and will make wonderful gifts for friends
who stop by over the holidays.
For friendship gifts, find inexpensive vases at
hobby or thrift stores. Choose
clear deep vases that are just wide enough to hold one or three bulbs. For yourself, you can be a bit more
extravagant and choose larger containers.
These bulb jars do not have to be clear, although
the see-through pots show off the pebbles and roots along with the stems and
flowers. Which brings us to the
next thing you will need: small
stones, rocks or pebbles. You can
even wash driveway gravel and use it as the base for your bulbs.
If you add 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to a
gallon of water and use this for the bulb growing medium, the leaves and flower
stems will be shorter and sturdier, keeping them from flopping as they
grow. I tried this trick last
year, making up the solution in a gallon jug and using it to keep the bulbs
also learned from a friend to plant the paperwhites in a very deep glass
container, just large enough to hold the bulbs side by side. The stems are supported by the glass as
they grow. Voila! No more staking required. You will need stakes if you do not try
these flop-stopping tips.
You can start paper whites in a cool area,
outdoors if there is no threat of frost or freeze; or indoors in a garage or
basement or unheated room. Leave
them there until roots have fully developed. Usually two weeks will get them off to a good start. At this point, they do not need
After the roots have grown into the pebbles, bring
them into a brightly lit, warm room.
Lush foliage and small buds will grow. Soon the air will be filled with their fragrance.
Many of the easily found bulbs around town have
a musky odor. Some of these bulbs, most likely called
‘Ziva’, will actually have a smell that is overpowering and unpleasant to some
folks. There are several types of
paperwhites available on the market but you might have to search them out.
Some of these paperwhites are larger flowered with
a sweeter, less pungent fragrance. If you would like to try a bulb or two with
a more delicate fragrance, try Inbal or Israel These, and more, are available from bulb growers with
internet or paper catalogs. I
ordered mine from www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com For more information on growing
paperwhite narcissus, check out our video at: http://www.gardensmart.tv/?p=play_video&year=2004&format=wmv&clip=smarttip1show30.wmv
When the flowers have finished their season, you
can toss them on the compost heap.
If you live in zone 8 or warmer, you can plant these bulbs outdoors and
they will bloom again in your garden in a couple of years. (They have even survived in sheltered
locations in my zone 7 gardens.)