14 January 2010

The Paper White Files

It must be time to talk about the indoor garden plants. My first Paper White Narcissus (Tazetta narcissus) were planted the day after coming home from Thanksgiving vacation last year. The bulbs were snug in their paper bags just behind the milk and soda in the refrigerator for about two weeks prior to planting. They grew slowly at first, and then just after Christmas, the blooms began. They were stunning for my New Years Open House. What timing!

Since I don't like the concept of disposable plants, the bulbs were watered throughout the winter, spindly leaves and all, and planted outdoors in the spring. The hope was that they would grow strong bulbs with the sunlight and garden soil, go dormant like good bulbs should, and be harvested for planting indoors next year.

This process really confused the plants. Outdoors, the leaves flopped around worse than in the house and began turning yellow. After about a week of dormancy, (or of deciding what season it is and what the appropriate response should be), the plants began shooting up new vigorous leaf growth. This continued for at least two months. Now I was the one confused.

Not knowing what to make it this, and months after the spring blooming bulbs had disappeared, I stopped watering the paper whites. I dug one up to take a peek at what was hopefully a bulb. There was no such thing. The largest hints of bulbs were small marble-sized balls.

This year, new paper whites were planted a week earlier - just before Thanksgiving, but they still bloomed at the same time - right after Christmas and in time for my New Years Open House again. Guests noticed the fragrance after walking through the door. I know that paper whites don't come from the stork, so I need to research more on how to cultivate them to bloom again. I discovered they will die from the cold that our normal daffodils get in the winter. One piece of advice I always find - throw them away and buy new ones.


J.C. said...
I love the way paper whites look, but I don't care for the scent. Any ideas on how to get 'scent-free' paper whites?
Swimray said...
No, but that would be a great idea for new hybrid work. I can live with the scent, but would prefer something better.