How about forcing paperwhite bulbs into bloom in January?
If not, you are missing a wonderful chance to get out of the winter blahs! They are so cheerful looking and the scent is nice, and it is so easy I can let my 11 year old grandson do it if he was not so busy with his Christmas presents!
The paperwhite bulb is a Narcissus papyraceus which is a bulb that does not need to be pre-chilled to bloom. These are usually sold around Christmas time and you can force them earlier to have blooms for the holidays. But I want to have the flowers in the mid-January snowstorms and ice storms so that I can see and feel flowers again. It will help me get through to spring. Forcing bulbs for blooming has been going on since the 1800s. The coldness in a house without central heating helped the bulbs survive for longer periods of time.
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The variety that I have this year is Ziva and they supposedly have larger flowers and a “spicy” aroma. I don’t remember the variety that I have had previously, so I hope I like the “spicy” scent. I wish I knew if these were the ones I have had before that had a nice pleasant scent.
I have planted ( if you call sticking bulbs on the top of a rock bed planting) ten bulbs in a large round bowl that I’ve filled about one-third full of smooth polished stones. They seem to hold the bulbs well and I hope that the roots will grow into the water. I put enough water to just touch the bottom of the bulbs. More water up on the bulb may tend to make the bulb rot.
I have also planted some hyacinths which are up a few inches, so I should have some of those fragrant flowers after these paperwhites are gone.
I had purchased a package of a dozen bulbs in late fall and have kept them in a paper bag in my fridge drawer. I don’t know how many times I would open that drawer and ask “What’s this?” I took them out after the New Year, and sure enough, they started to sprout. I was scrambling to find my hyacinth vases and others that I could use for this purpose. I know what I will be on the look-out for this summer at rummage sales.
Below is a short film of my simple method for forcing these paperwhite bulbs. Watch it and see how easy it is. You won’t go another year without trying this. It is exciting for kids to watch them sprout and send out roots. A great learning experience.
Blooming should occur about 3-4 weeks after “planting,” therefore you can plan the time you’d like them for presentation. I have the fragrant blossoms to greet me each morning. I am so looking forward to all the spring blossoms. Meanwhile these will do.
And when you take your photographs, perhaps you will catch a glimpse of yourself as I see in this one.
I also had the Amaryllis which bloomed too late for Christmas, but finally in early January. It grew to about 28 inches high and the blossom was three huge flowers. My amaryllis is the “Apple Blossom” variety . I will be so thrilled if I can keep it another year for re-blooming. Here is the post on amaryllis.
Keep the bulb alive outside all summer. I got a bloom from this Amaryllis in July. But it just died back again and I saved it once again for a repeat this January. She is such a trooper!
Are you forcing any bulbs this year? Try it. It is so easy and the rewards are wonderful.