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Paperwhite Bulb Growing Instructions

by | Nov 19, 2007

Paperwhites_with_bulb2 We recommend and offer the Narcissi Paperwhite bulb variety "Nazareth". A low fragrance Paperwhite! Paperwhites are planted and grown in containers indoors for blooms throughout the winter season.

Paperwhites can be forced between October 1 and the end of March. Paperwhites started in October will be in full bloom by November. Paperwhites planted later in the season come quicker.

Growing in soil: Choose a container that has a drainage hole. Place 2-3" of soil in the bottom of the container. Place the bulbs like eggs in a carton- close but not touching, pressing lightly into the soil. Add enough soil to come up to the tip of the bulbs and firm the soil in well. After planting thouroughly moisten the soil. For a decorative touch and added bulb support, top the soil with gravel or pebbles, placing gentle around the bulbs.

Growing in pebbles: Choose a water tight container, I prefer a clear bowl (crystal salad bowls are perfect). This allows you to see the beautiful roots growing through the pebbles and also for easier water level viewing. I find using distilled water in place of tap water keeps the container cleaner over time. Fill the container 2/3’s full with pebbles. Place the bulbs like eggs in a carton- close but not touching, placing the bulbs on the gravel. Add water so that the water barely reaches the base of the bulbs. Next, fill the bowl with pebbles by placing them gentle around the bulbs.

Growing conditions: Keep the container in a bright cool room for the first 2 weeks while developing roots. Move to a warmer and sunnier location for the foliage growth. Your Paperwhites will bloom for a 2-3 week period. If your home is warmer (72 degrees and above) they will come and go faster. If your home is cooler, 70 degrees and below (like mine) yours may come on a little slower but will last much longer.

Watering: Water as often as necessary to keep the soil from drying out or so the water barely touches the base of the bulbs in the gravel. As they begin to grow foliage and flowers you will notice they need water more often.

How to keep your Paperwhites plants 1/3 shorter with "The Recipe"

Paperwhites often grow tall, leggy and fall over because they are stretching for light. Most homes as far as plants are concerned would be considered low-light. This recipe works even in low-light situations!

To keep your Paperwhites shorter, plant as directed above, wait 1 week until roots are growing and the shoot is green and growing about 1-2" above the top of the bulb. For pebble plantings pour off the water and replace it with a solution of 4-6% alcohol to reduce the growth by 1/3–do not exceed the recommend dose. For soil planted bulbs just begin watering with the recipe.

"The Recipe"

·       Using household rubbing alcohol that is 70% alcohol. Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10 parts water.

·       Using a 40% gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, or tequila. Add 1 part alcohol to 7 parts water.

Use this recipe instead of water for further watering of your bulbs. Do not use beer or wine. Instructions courtesy of William Miller, Professor of Horticulture, Cornell University.

Growing Tips for Success:

·       Paperwhites make excellent cut flowers. They last just as long, if not longer cut from the bulb as left on the bulb! To use as a fresh cut, grow as usual, cut the stem just above the bulb when the bud is just beginning to crack open. Treat as a cut flower, placing in clean water with fresh flower food for a beautiful display! Harvest stems as they develop leaving the foliage on the bulb- as these are the food making the flowers for next year.

·       Provide a support for your bulbs before you need it! Using 3-4 twigs from your yard, diameter the size of your little finger, about 18′ tall. Create a natural looking grow through support for your bulbs. I push the twigs down into the soil or pebbles, either into each corner of the container or use 3 twigs to create a tri-pod. I tie the twigs together at the top with raffia. The foliage grows up through the support, virtually hiding it and you can tie a wide beautiful ribbon around the waist of the plant for added support if needed.

·       Keep extra bulbs on hand in a cool dark place and you’ll be able to plant them every few weeks to have blooms all winter long.

·       For those that live south of the Mason-Dixon Line: When the show is over, keep indoors until spring, watering as needed, allowing he foliage to die back–do not cut off, it is making the flowers for next year. Plant outdoors when soil is workable. Here in southeastern Virginia they bloom in the coming years outdoors in the garden in November.

·       Paperwhites make excellent hostess gifts, teacher gifts and that gift you have under the tree for just in case!

Enjoy a bit of spring hope and beauty all winter long with Paperwhite blooms!

To purchase our low fragrance Paperwhite Bulbs click here.