Paperwhites for Winter Charm

Paperwhites for Winter Charm
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Paperwhites for Winter CharmPaperwhites, Narcissus tazetta, are a charming variety of daffodil that doesn't require a chilling period in order to bloom indoors. Ziva is a popular paperwhite because it blooms earliest, but it's also costly if you buy it in a kit that comes with a container and instructions. Instead, buy just the bulbs and plant them in your own container.

The container should be 4-5 inches deep in any width, depending how many bulbs you are planting. You can use a good potting soil, and plant them with the tops showing above the soil, but just below the rim of the container. Water them and keep moist, but there is no need to fertilize.

You can also plant paperwhites without soil! Fill the container about 2/3 full of gravel, stones, or anything that will give the roots something to grow onto. Arrange the bulbs, tops up, and right next to each other so that they touch, in the container and position them so they are held in place. Fill the container with water JUST until it touches the bottoms of the bulbs.

You don't want them covered--they will rot. Place them in a dark, cool location until they start growing roots and sprouting. If they start out to warm or in too bright of a location they may get leggy or the stems may get weak and floppy. If this does happen, you can stake them in the container with wooden sticks (kabob sticks work well).

As they start growing, move them to a brighter location (medium light), then as the buds form you should move them to a sunny window. They will bloom 3-6 weeks after you plant them, depending on the variety. You can use pretty glass containers if you want to show off the pebbles and bulbs, or you can use plastic containers that are placed in baskets. It's neat to do at least a few bulbs in a glass bowl or vase if you have kids, so they can watch the bulbs sprout and grow over time.

Paperwhites are also very fragrant, especially the Ziva variety. One note though, don't except to use the bulbs again. They spend all their energy in the forcing and blooming process and won't bloom again. If you are in Zones 9 or 10, you can plant them in a bed, hoping that one or two will pop up again. For those of us who thrive on sunshine and flowers during the gardening season, the fragrant paperwhites are a special treat in the winter as we dream of our spring gardens.

Special Subscriber Note: Paperwhites can be planted in your garden after they are through a forced blooming season. They will not flower the following year, but will flower the next (second year after planting). I've a garden full of paperwhites that I've forced, have planted in the garden, fertilized well, and they have lovely blooms each year at about this time (mid-fall. At least this works in mild winter areas such as Southern California. ~Lynn Banker



About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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