To do: Coax Paperwhites


There’s something untoward about the term, “forcing bulbs.” I always feel for the poor mistreated bulb: was it bullied? Terrorized? Coerced? That’s why I prefer coaxing.

Whatever you choose to call it, forcing bulbs refers to the act of creating conditions that mimic nature’s springtime, confusing the bulb in winter. My favourite bulb to coax is the paperwhite, or, Narcissus tazetta ssp papyraceus.

Paperwhites are so easy to grow and require only four-six weeks to bloom. And that makes now the time to plant for beautiful blooms (and that fragrance!) just in time for Christmas and Hannukah. You can plant them almost anywhere: in potting soil in a container, or in rocks in the bottom of any vase, bowl or container. The important thing to keep in mind is that the top third of these bulbs always needs to be above the soil/growing medium. My experience has been that the stems eventually require some staking to keep from flopping over, so this year I am going to try growing them in a tall, clear hurricane vase in dark, coarse sand. My hope is that the vase will support the stems as they grow while still displaying the blooms to advantage. I’ll let you know how it works out.



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