The Great Outdoors


Here is something that’s fun, quick and easy to grow that can be done with your kids or grandkids that cannot fail. Watering is easy and these bulbs will bloom on time every time. White narcissus (N. tazetta), or paperwhites as they are commonly known are easier to grow than other narcissus bulbs as this type needs no cooling time. Just place them in a leak-proof container and add enough water to almost cover the bulbs completely. It only takes 3 weeks from start to bloom and you will have the most fragrant flowers on earth. Keep refilling with water as needed.

While paperwhite can also be grown in pots filled with soil, it seems much easier to use a tall, clear, cylinder type vase as the height of the vase helps to keeps the tall stems from falling over. Place 3 or 4 bulbs (whatever fits) in the bottom of the vase and add some stones or marbles to help hold the bulbs in place (really more for looks than support), then add the water. Keep the container in a very bright spot as stretching may occur if placed in a dim location.

Paperwhites do grow extremely fast, especially in a warm spot. Real fast growth is not always what you want to accomplish as fast growth equals spindly growth. Ideally, 60 to 65 degrees is best. After they bud up, try to move them to an even cooler place. If you cannot find a cooler place, try placing them closer to the window as cool air creeps through the glass. Of course, I put mine in a cooler that runs temperatures in the low 40s, but not until they are budded. The refrigerator is a safe place but then you cannot enjoy them. Maybe use the refrigerator each night to extend their life and only bring them out while you are at home.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer