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Flowers For Winter

Paper White Narcissus bulbs are easy to grow indoors and provide clusters of highly perfumed white flowers.

a bunch of paper white narcissus flowers before a pink background.

Photo: mlecuni

Paper White Narcissus flowers can be grown in any deep container that has sides to support the foliage as it grows up.

Paper White Narcissus

This is the time to keep an eye out for Paper White Narcissus bulbs on sale in local garden centers, catalogs and stores. If you see them and love flowers that bloom in the winter then be sure to buy lots of these bulbs. Paper whites are easy to grow indoors and provide clusters of highly perfumed white flowers. They make excellent gifts even for non-gardeners.

These bulbs are tender, they do not grow outdoors in sub freezing temperatures and, when they have bloomed and have totally exhausted themselves, they should be discarded. They have been treated so that they can be forced into bloom out of season and indoors. They don’t even need to be planted in soil to bloom and will even bloom in a container of water. Vases, bowls, soup tureens, ice buckets…..you can use any deep container that holds water and has sides to support the foliage as it grows up.

Growing A Bulb In Water

  1. Fill a deep container half full of small pebbles and stand as many bulbs as you can fit on top of the pebbles. A group of flower stalks looks so much more impressive than one.
  2. When you examine a bulb you will see that there is a flat piece on which the bulb stands. This is called the basal plate.Pour water into the container until the water just reaches the basal plate of each bulb.
  3. Keep the container of bulbs in a cool dark spot until roots have reached from the basal plates of the bulbs into the water, and formed a mat among the pebbles.
  4. It is then time to move the container of bulbs to a sunny window.
  5. If the container is rotated weekly the leaves will not lean towards the light. Paper white foliage is notorious for flopping so you may need to stake it or tie the leaves together with green yarn.
Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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