Kids love garden projects where you don’t have to wait long for action and results, which makes growing paperwhites a perfect choice if you’re looking for an indoor adventure for children or grandchildren. They begin to produce foliage almost immediately after planting and they’ll be blooming before Christmas, filling an entire room with their sweet, spicy fragrance. Paperwhites are tender bulbs, members of the Narcissus family but not winter-hardy for our area. They don’t require a chilling period. In fact they’re damaged by temperatures near freezing, so they’re quite happy to grow in your kitchen or living room. They don’t even need soil!
NUTS AND BOLTS
Plant three or more paperwhites together for the best showing of blooms, and lots of fragrance. Use soil or small pebbles or marbles and fill a glass or ceramic bowl 2/3 full. Set the bulbs, roots down, on top of the growing media and then add a bit more to secure them into place. The top half of the bulbs should be exposed. Add water at the base of the bulbs and keep the water level there. Too much water and the bulbs will rot. Place the bowl in a dark, cool location for several days until you begin to see strong roots growing from the base. At this point you can bring the bowl out into the light but keep it in a cool, sunny location. Too much heat will force foliage growth at the expense of the flowers, and the blooms will last longer in cool temperatures so try to keep the surroundings no warmer than 20 deg. C.
DID YOU KNOW?
Paperwhites make great Christmas gifts for a special coach or teacher. Bulbs are $1.97 each. The long stems can be tied with a bow or staked as they get taller to keep them from flopping over. Or, you can water them with a mix of one part alcohol (vodka or gin) and seven parts water to keep the stems shorter through dehydration. I’m keeping my bottles in the cabinet for entertaining thanks!