15 November 2011

Plant paperwhites inside now for Christmas bloom

Paperwhites are daffodils or narcissus that are commonly used for winter indoor forcing because they need no chilling period to successfully bloom.

They are perennials in zone 8 but annuals in colder climates such as our zone 7. I confess that when I take them out of the forcing bowls each winter, I do plant them in the garden. If the winter is not too harsh, they bloom at least one more year.

Ziva has become popular because this variety has less scent than the others and many people think the scent is too strong.

They bloom 6-weeks after planting so if you want them for Christmas, it's time to start.
These came from a big box store and are already sprouting which is not necessarily desirable.
Do not remove the outer skins but if they fall off while you are working with the bulbs it's OK. 
You'll need bowls, vases or pots without holes. Add 2-inches of sand, soil or stones. I've always used gravel and stones.
If you google containers of forced daffodilsyou will see coffee cups, boots and all manner of containers being used.
Arrange the bulbs on top of the gravel. To get them to stand up, you'll have to tuck individual stones under each bulb. The top of the bulb should stick out of the stones.

After the bulbs are settled in you can top the bowl with decorative stones, marbles, or other cute stuff.

Add water. This is important: Do not let the water go above the bottom of the bulbs.

Next, put the container into a 50 to 60 degree location where the light is low to give the bulbs a couple of weeks to establish roots.
If you put them into the light immediatly they will be weak and the stems will fall over. Maintain the water level at the base of the bulb.
When the roots are established, move the container into 70 degrees and bright light.

It is popular to add a teaspoon vodka to the water after the roots emerge though the daffodil society says that is the worst gardening advice ever given.

Your bulbs will not bloom if they are too cold or too dry so add bottom heat if your house is below 70-degrees F.
























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