Growing paperwhites in January
Andrea Bellamy |

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I’ve always grown paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) for the holiday season – force of habit, I guess. But this winter I just didn’t get around to picking up any bulbs, and before I knew it, it was all “Happy new year!” and I had no stinky white flowers in my house. On a jaunt to the local hardware store in early January, however, I noticed paperwhite bulbs in the clearance bin, and picked up a few for almost free.

I’ll never go back to forcing bulbs pre-Christmas. I appreciate my little pot of paperwhites so much more now that the rush of parties and family gatherings and excess baking is over. The house is filled with glitz in December, anyway – it’s nice to have something that I can enjoy now in this quiet, introspective month.

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One last thing about paperwhites: I tried the vodka-stunting method last year, and while it did prevent the stems from growing too tall and floppy, it also seemed to reduce the life of the blooms. Or maybe I just gave them too much. Regardless, I did without this year, instead rotating the pot a quarter turn every couple days. Seemed to keep ‘em straight and sober.

Okay, I guess it’s two last things: When they’re finished blooming, I plant the bulbs in my boulevard garden. They’ll bloom again in two years.



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