Winter Flowers

Narcissus papyraceus, one of a few species known as “Paperwhites,” is a perennial bulbous plant native to the Mediterranean region (USDA zones 9-10). Paperwhites produce white flowers in bunches which are strongly fragrant and they are easy to force to bloom indoors for winter flowers.

Paperwhites only need three inches of room for their roots to grow, so shallow containers like glass vases and ceramic bowls are ideal containers.  It’s fun to scout around antique stores, second hand stores and garage sales for unusual planting containers to display these fragrant flowers indoors.  They make wonderful gifts, too.

The planting medium only needs to provide support for the plants and be suitable for the roots to grow through.  And because Paperwhites are usually discarded after flowering  the planting medium doesn’t need to supply any nutrients, so Paperwhites can be planted in soil, pebbles, tumbled beach glass, glass marbles or small gravel.

Plant Paperwhites bulbs with the top inch above the soil/pebble “soil” line. For a full display plant bulbs close together, almost touching. If planted in soil add just enough water to moisten the soil. If planted in pebbles, rocks or marbles, add enough water to just cover the bulbs bases. The goal here is to have the very bottom of the bulbs touching the water to encourage root growth, but not covering the entire bulb which can cause it to rot. Place the container in a sunny bright location and in a week or two roots will appear, after which the buds and blooms develop quickly. It is fun to watch the daily progress.

Paperwhites

Paperwhites

My friend gave me this large basket she was taking to Goodwill, so I lined it with a plastic trash bag, filled it with potting soil and planted 20 Paperwhites in it the first week of December.

Carlotta Lucas

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