Plant some of these now and they’ll be up and flowering in 6-8 weeks and the small, elegant flowers with paper-thin petals will fill your house with a delicious scent. They fall into that category of ‘forced bulbs’ which just means that given certain conditions they’ll flower early. In this case they simply need to be kept in a cool, dark place at first so they develop plenty of roots.
How to plant Paperwhites:
- Choose a bowl or tall glass vase, if you want a really stylish look, go for empty Diptyque glass candle holders for individual bulbs. Glass is nice because you see some of the roots developing.
- Place a layer of shingle or pebbles in the base.
- Nestle the bulbs, pointed side up, and close together on the shingle.
- Add more shingle leaving the pointy ‘nose’ of the bulb showing, you can also use bulb fibre at this stage.The plants are quite tall and liable to tip over when they flower if they’re not secure, so it’s best to use a small shingle or a mix of small and large.
- Water the shingle below the bulbs, don’t let the bulbs sit in water or they may rot.
- When the shoots are 3-5cm tall, bring them out of the dark, but keep them away from bright sunlight until they become green, then move them into bright sun. The ideal spot is bright and sunny, but away from direct heat, like a radiator.
- The flowers will soon follow and the sweet scent will fill the room.
- Snip the dead flowers off and give the plants a liquid feed, leaving the foliage in place until it turns yellow-brown, this is how the bulb stores energy ready for flowering next year. If you live in the south of England, or have a sheltered spot in your garden, plant them outside. They don’t like cold but they may re-grow and it’s worth a try.
I’d recommend new bulbs each time for indoor planting.
Bulbs can be bought online from those nice people at Crocus.
image: courtesy of Crocus, ibulb.