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.


Annie Jeffries said...

What a special idea, Marilyn. I've never had Paperwhites. I'm definitely getting some of these. Pictures forthcoming. Thank you for such a lovely idea.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to do this - generally, how long does it take before they bloom? We'll be on a cruise Nov. 29-Dec. 6. Would Dec. 7-ish be too late to plant for a Christmas bloom?

Marilyn Miller said...

If you plant them right after the cruise they will be close to blooming around Christmas or New Year's. Any winter time is nice though, as we need flowers in the winter too. Buy the bulbs now, but don't start them until you return.

Rosemary said...

I simply **love** the fragrance of Paperwhites! We sell them every year at Rosemary House, and I manage to get a few to blossom over the holidays. Such a treat to have these fragrant blossoms while snow is on the ground.

La Tea Dah said...

I also enjoy growing paper whites for the holidays. Thank you for the reminder that it's time to get started! Yours look beautiful!

Enjoy a lovely day! I hope you have some sunshine (none here for us this morning).