Paper White Narcissus
Paper White Bulbs Care
The paper white Narcissus is a type of daffodil. Daffodils are divided into many groups with paper whites falling into the Tazetta group. They are one of the earliest of all the Narcissi to bloom in the spring. Like other daffodils they grow from an underground corm or bulb.
This picture was taken at Longwood Gardens in PA.
These paper whites are massed beneath hanging balls of sweet alyssum as part of their holiday display.
Paper white bulbs produce bright green shoots that resemble scallions. They grow to a height of 10-15 inches. Upright flower stalks will emerge from among the shoots bearing clusters of inch-wide, star-shaped white flowers at their tips.
Care of Paper Whites
Narcissus (Daffodil) Bulbs in Pot, Early Spring
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Paper white Narcissus are wonderfully perennial in cool climates. They will not bloom where it is hot. Plant the bulbs in the fall, 4 inches deep and the same distance apart in moist, fertile soil.
If they like the growing conditions in your yard, they may naturalize. All you need to do to keep the flowers coming is give them a top-dressing of bone meal each fall.
If you don't want the bulbs to naturalize and spread, you can dig them up and store them dry until the following fall. Do this in the spring after the leaves turn yellow.
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For those of us who can only grow Narcissus tazetta indoors, this is how it's done:
- No special treatment is necessary to force the bulbs as they do not need a chilling period. Just place wet pebbles or gravel in a 3 inch deep bowl and set the bulbs into the stones with the pointy ends facing up.
- Place the bowl on a windowsill in a cool room. They will flower in less than a month. You can move them into a warmer room once the buds begin to open.
Paper white Narcissus may fail to bloom if they are allowed to dry out while they are forming roots or if they are exposed to too much heat. Like any flower, they need ample light in order to bloom.A common problem with paper whites forced indoors is that of the top-heavy stems falling over.
A little hard liquor will remedy this.
You can use vodka, tequila, whiskey...any hard liquor. Even rubbing alcohol will work.
Add the alcohol to the plant's water only after a good root system has formed. And only add a little bit. You want the plant's growing solution to be 9 parts water to 1 part alcohol.
I kid you not.
William Miller, Director of the Flowerbulb Research Program at Cornell University wrote a paper about this called Pickling Your Paperwhites - Ginning Up Paperwhites That Don't Flop Over. (It's a PDF file) Click over there and read it if you don't believe me.
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