Forcing bulbs (by tricking to bloom out of season) marks the beginning of the holiday season at my house…Paperwhites (Narcissus Tazetta) being my favourite. I know many of you dislike the scent of Paperwhites, but to me, it is the sweet smell of Christmas! I also love the way they look en masse…the more, the merrier!
Paperwhites are easy to grow and can be planted in water, soil or pebbles. This year I planted most of my bulbs in pebbles in glass containers…I find it easier to monitor water levels.
Whether you decide to plant in soil or pebbles, start with a base of 2-3” and place the bulbs on top with the pointy ends up. Do not allow bulbs to sit in water. This will cause them to rot. Put in a sunny location. Within a week the bulbs will sprout, and in 5-6 weeks, you will have blooms. To prolong blooms move to a cooler area or a north-facing window.
If the blooms become top-heavy support with a twig and/or tie with a ribbon or string loosely around the stems.
To determine when to plant see the charts below.
The perfect companion for white Paperwhites is Amaryllis which comes in many colours…red, white and pink being the most popular. Equally easy to grow as Paperwhites, Amaryllis does, however, take longer to bloom…6-8 weeks. Presoak the roots in water for a couple of hours. This will rehydrate the roots and speed up the growing process. Amaryllis can also be planted in either soil or pebbles.
Waxed Amaryllis has been popular in Europe (originating in Holland) over the last decade. You may have noticed these waxed bulbs in your local greenhouse during the past couple of holiday seasons. Since all the necessary nutrients are already packed into the bulb, they do not require water to grow. The roots are removed before the bulb is coated in wax preventing the bulb from producing new roots. A metal stand is usually set into the wax to hold the bulb upright. These bulbs bloom sooner than the traditional bulbs. They only grow for one season.
These are the bulbs I’ve planted for this Christmas. I put as many bulbs as I can fit in a container to ensure a lusher display which also helps to keep the stems propped up.
I usually plant pink or white Amaryllis to compliment my seasonal decor. This will be the first Christmas I won’t have my mom. In her memory, I planted a red bulb (her favourite) in a pinwheel vase that sat in her china cabinet for years…
Because of the strong fragrance of the blooms of Paperwhites, they are not a good option for your dining room table, however, displayed elsewhere in your home over the holidays they become the showpiece of the season…in my opinion!
I planted my Paperwhites in the vintage-styled glass containers that are available at aprescconwhyte.com online boutique.