Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > November 2015 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Paperwhite Naricissus

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Paperwhite Naricissus

I love paperwhites.  They are easy to bloom—and fast!  What’s more, they are inexpensive and beautiful.

Narcissus papyraceus—paperwhites—are native to the western Mediterranean from Greece to Portugal to Morocco.  Believe it or not, they are a type of daffodil, just not winter-hardy here in Virginia. However they will bloom easily in a sunny window.  Paperwhites are readily available from September through December.

Some people love the strong spicy fragrance of the traditional paperwhite (Narcissus papyraceus “Ziva”); some people don’t.  If you find it a bit strong, there are alternatives.  There are several “new kids” on the block that are worth trying.  I love “Winter Sun”.  It’s a pure white flower with a bright yellow cup and has a much lighter fragrance than the traditional Ziva.  This one can be grown in water and pebbles or in potting soil just like the regular paperwhite.

“Inbal” is a pure-white flower, much like the traditional “Ziva” but has a lighter sweeter scent.  It forces easily, but is best planted in potting soil—not water and rocks.

When will Paperwhites bloom?  Paperwhites started around Thanksgiving will take around three weeks to bloom.  I don’t ever try to get mine to bloom by a certain date; I just enjoy them whenever they bloom.  If you do want to try to hit a target date, then I’d recommend planting two or three bowls about a week apart.

To keep flower stems sturdy and avoid the “flops,” keep planted bulbs in a sunny window.  Cool temperatures will also help.  You can also add an alcohol and water solution to your water when growing in water and rocks.  The solution is one part vodka or gin to seven parts water.  Start bulbs in plain water and add the alcohol solution once the top shoots are a couple of inches high.  You can also use one part isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to ten parts of water.  Do not use beer or wine as they contain sugars which can cause mold to grow instead.

Paperwhites and Amaryllis both are easy to grow indoors and easier yet to give as gifts. To give as a gift, I usually give the bulbs, a bag of marble chips and a container as a “kit.”  Or I’ll pot them up the day before.  After all, part of the fun is watching them grow.
Posted: 11/23/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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