narcissus in bloom.
apartment dwellers or anyone planning a party in
December, paper-white narcissus are hard to beat. A pot
or bowl of these pretty plants in bloom makes a great
centerpiece or table decoration that you can put
narcissus brings the garden indoors in winter, even if
the bulbs never spent a day outside. They are
tailor-made for people who have no garden space but have
a yen to make something pretty for the holidays.
paper-white bulbs produce white flowers, but a few types
are yellow, which I do not think of as a color for
are bulbs, but unlike tulips, hyacinths and daffodils,
they do not require a long stretch in cold soil
outdoors. Once planted in soil or just water, they will
break dormancy, grow roots, send up leaves and bloom.
What could be easier?
have two basic choices for planting them: a bowl of
water with the roots well anchored by pebbles or in a
pot of soil. In water, the bottom of the bulbs must be
right at the water level to encourage root development
but not allow the bulb to rot. That is one reason a
clear bowl is nice for this project. You can see the
roots develop and keep the water level just right.
pots, set the bulbs so they are close but not touching,
with the growing tips just above the soil line. Set the
potted bulbs in a saucer to catch water that seeps out
the bottom of the pot. This avoids wrecking the finish
on your table.
plants should be kept well-watered but not left in a
soggy state, again to avoid the dreaded rot.
the greatest challenge is keeping the plants in a cool
environment during the early days and weeks to avoid
leaves growing too tall.
works best is a cool, sunny spot. Well away from burning
fireplaces, furnace registers and other sources of heat.
Heat brings the flowers and leaves along too quickly,
and they tend to flop over without the help of stakes
and string to keep them upright.
BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)
the Piedmont outdoors is often just right for the
development of paper-white narcissus. That means a deck,
patio or steps where you can easily grab them and bring
indoors if the weather forecast calls for freezing
years ago, researchers at Cornell University announced
they had found a way to keep the foliage and stems of
paper-whites from getting too tall and flopping even
when grown in warm temperatures indoors. It involved the
addition of certain types of alcohol such as gin or
vodka to the water in which they grow. The complete
report and instructions are at www.hort.cornell.edu/miller/bulb/Pickling
— your — Paperwhites.pdf.