Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paper Whites

Each year as we approach the holidays my husband, the gardener, goes to the local nursery and buys Paper White bulbs with the idea that we will have them blooming for Christmas. Well he always gets so excited to do this that the blooms are here before the appointed holiday. But over the season we enjoy vases of Paper Whites in the house.
Paper Whites are in the Narcissus family of bulbs. Be aware the clusters of small white flowers are fragrant and some people don't like the fragrance. If you would like to grow Paper Whites for the holidays now is the time to do so. Visit your garden center and buy a few. There are 5 bulbs in the vase above. The bottom of the vase or pot should be weighted with small decorative rocks (we have also in the past used marbles or glass pebbles). Then place the bulbs as you see above with the root side down. Add water to touch the bottom of the bulb and make sure throughout the growing time that the roots have water. They can become very "leggy" and fall over if not given support. We like ours in tall, clear vases. I have, however, seen them planted in teacups, wine decanters, and shallow dishes. Recently we found out that if you add a small amount of alcohol (either rubbing or drinking) to the water it will stunt their growth and you can have shorter plants. I love them at this time of year. Paper Whites add a touch of nature indoors. They add to the festive spirit. When they bloom I will follow up with another picture.