Here’s a fun holiday addition! Fragrant Paperwhites are tender Narcissus bulbs for forcing indoors in a pot of gravel in our colder climate.
Start with an odd number of bulbs for a more attractive look. Locate a bowl or dish at least 3 inches deep that you can fill with similar-sized gravel or stones.
Stones or marbles can be a mix of colors or a single color to suit your decor. Dish can be clear glass (helps to see the water level) or solid.
Set bulbs root side down, points up, in dishes that are partially filled with your support material. Bulbs can fill the dish and just barely touch.
Top off stones so the bulbs are covered up to the widest part of the bulb.
If bulbs have started to sprout the stems will turn toward the brightest light. Don’t worry about the orientation yet.
Add water to a level just at the base of the bulbs.
Keep in a bright but cool (60-65 degrees F) location. Within a week, roots form and stretch into the water and a green shoot about 1/2 in. long appears at the top. White fragrant flowers usually open up with in 2-3 weeks of planting.
Paperwhite Narcissus in full bud.
Paperwhite bulbs are available NOW at $1.49 each or
you can purchase potted bulbs (about 5 per pot as shown)
that are already in bud or bloom for $9.99.
Paperwhite without alcohol on left compared to ‘pickled’ bulb on right.
A common issue is the stems and leaves flop over just as the blooms open.
By replacing your watering solution with a 5% alcohol solution (mix 1 part isopropyl alcohol with 10 parts water),
you will keep the stems and foliage at 1/3 to 1/2 shorter than normal without affecting the flowers.
This prevents flopping but don’t do this if you have pets who may drink the water!