Paperwhites: Simple Winter Flowers With the Promise of Spring
Paperwhites hold the Promise of Spring
After the winter holidays are over, many of us sadly take down the decorations and wait months for the arrival of spring. In my Central Oregon home, warmer weather can be months away, often waiting until May or June! But I love flowers, especially bulbs. What can I do to enjoy nature's beauty before its time?
Paperwhites hold the promise of spring! These delicate white flowers on long green stems, also known as Narcissus, can be grown and enjoyed indoors by the process of forcing bulbs.
Unlike the more garish Amaryllis that is popular during Christmas and New Year's, Paperwhites are a simple flower, with pretty blooms. I find that they are a beautiful, refreshing alternative to Poinsettias and holly, when I am looking for relief from the recent weeks of red and green.
Paperwhites are Fragrant and Beautiful
Paperwhite flowers can generally be enjoyed in winter months (January through March) with their long, delicate stalks, white blooms and fragrant scent. Also known as Narcissus, Paperwhites are a bulb flower (like tulips, daffodils and others) that can be forced - i.e., to bloom before its time - indoors.
Paperwhites have a strong fragrance, which sets them apart from most other bulb flowers. Once you force them to bloom, paperwhites can delight you for weeks. And it only takes about a month to coax them into blooming after planting indoors.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, you can enjoy Paper whites in January!
How to Force Bulbs: Paperwhites
About Paperwhites: Bulb Flowers for Spring
The Paperwhite flower is an import to the United States. Scholars believe that they originated in Mediterranean countries, due to writings of several well-known authors, including Homer. Isreal is one of the top producers of Paperwhite bulbs for the U.S. Bulbs that are produced are cultivated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Paper white flowers have a strong fragrance, so if you are sensitive to smells, you might want to think twice about Narcissus.
Grow Paperwhites Indoors
How to Grow Paperwhites
Paperwhites can be forced with very little effort. In fact, if you purchase paperwhite bulbs in December, you will be enjoying blooms within 4-6 weeks, in early winter months. You should keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place before planting them.
Pre-potted containers of narcissus are also available for those who want to grow paperwhites even more easily. If you are looking for a nice gift, you can give a pre-potted narcissus bulb to a teacher, hair dresser, coach or any other important person in your life.
You can grow paperwhites indoors on a bed of washed pebbles, marbles or gravel. All you need is a shallow container about 3-4 inches deep in which you wish to display your forced paperwhites. The materials you need can be found at your local craft store, nurseries or garden centers.
The best results for growing paperwhites can be achieved by adding a small amount of liquor to the water for your bulb flowers. You can control the floppiness of the flower stems by using vodka, gin or whisky. Adding alcohol to water for your flowers will promote short, sturdy stems, rather than longer, more floppy ones.