Paperwhite Plant Profile
Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) is a white-flowering daffodil
relative that is hardy to zones 8-11.
Forcing these bulbs into bloom is a great holiday season project for beginning gardeners and children. These bulbs are of Mediterranean origin and come pre-chilled for you so they are virtually ready to "pop" into bloom once you place them in water.
They are generally inexpensive, around $1-2 each, so you can buy
several and pot them up as gifts for everyone on your list.
I like to place them individually in votive candle holders or
heavy-bottom rocks glasses then line them up on windowsills, down the middle of
a dining table, along the fireplace mantel, or singly next to the bathroom
sinks. You can also take a large glass bowl or tall vase and place several
bulbs in together to make a small “forest” of paperwhites. I have used
fishbowls, teapots, and old watering cans. Really anything that is water-tight
can be used, so look around your home for inspiration.
To anchor the bulbs in and prevent them from toppling over as
they grow leggy, you can place the bulbs in a variety of decorative media from
aquarium pebbles to glass marbles. (You can always use potting soil to plant
them in.) I like to use hydrating water beads that you can get from florist
supply and craft sources. They come in many shades, but I tend to stick with
the classic clear ones. Whatever media you use, keep the water level only up to
about the bulb's bottom hip area, so as not to rot it. If your home is as dry
as mine in winter, you will need to top off the water every few days, so keep
an eye on that.
Once "potted," place them in a sunny window until the
leaves emerge and a stalk with flower bud started to form (usually about 10
days to 2 weeks), then place them wherever you'd like to display them.
After the flowers start to fade, pull the bulbs out of the water
and pry off any marbles/stones/glass that you want to re-use next year then
throw out the whole plant in your compost pile. In our Mid-Atlantic USA region,
they are not winter-hardy, so there is no need to try and plant or save them
for next season.
Warning! The scent of paperwhite blooms is a love/hate thing. I
personally fall on the "not-my-favorite smell" end of things, so I
keep paperwhites in well-ventilated rooms and out of any bedrooms. If you
really cannot stand the scent, there are paperwhite varieties that are lighter
in fragrance than the mass-produced 'Ziva' that you find everywhere. These
include 'Inbal' and 'Galilee.'
You Can Grow That!
The video was produced
by Washington Gardener Magazine as part of our Plant Profile
series for Mid-Atlantic USA gardeners.
Editing by Brandie Bland
Videography by Jaime Breeden
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~ Podcast: GardenDC