Time for Paperwhites

paperwhitesNow is a great time to purchase Paperwhites. These bulbs are one of the few that don’t need to be chilled in order to grow indoors and they look great when grown for the holidays. They really help bring the outside in when no other flowers are in season.  Paperwhites also make wonderful gifts for teachers and co-workers and are easy to grow.

I like to get my bulbs from bloomingbulb.com . Blooming Bulbs is out of Medford Oregon and they have a great price for paperwhites. If you want to order more than just a few, this place is the best place to order since they offer discounts for the more you buy.

Last year was the first time I grew some…100 bulbs to be exact. My amazing friend Kim (who is the best gardener ever!) had grown them in the past and gave me a few tips to get started. My house looked as though it was taken over by these pretty little flowers. I had plants in the window sills and they covered most hard surfaces.  The experience was rewarding to say the least because the flowers bloomed and I was able to hand out many gifts to loved ones.

Here’s the lowdown.  First you’ll want to time planting 4 weeks before you hand out the gifts since the flower will bloom in 4-6 weeks after planting. You’ll then want to scrunge around for cool vessels to put them in. Some ideas include old tins, rectangular metal cake or bread pans, urns, milk glass, ceramics, or clear jars or vases. Think of what kind of look you want. If you want something elegant go for a clear vessel, or for a more rustic look think tin or wood. Mostly you’ll want something that will not rot and that can hold water.  The next step is simply adding some rocks (I used natural colored aquarium gravel) and push the bulb root side down into the rocks till they are supported enough to stand upright. Put several bulbs in a container and don’t worry too much about over crowding. Then add some water to fill the vessel up to the base of the bulb. Check on the bulbs daily to make sure they have enough to drink and you may want to rotate the plant so it doesn’t lean in one direction to the light.

One tip I learned after some research was adding alcohol to the water to keep the plants from getting too leggy. When plant shoots are 2 inches tall, pour out the water and replace it with a solution of 5% hard alcohol or rubbing alcohol (not wine or beer) mixed in water. This will stunt the growth of the stems yet allow the blooms to form…giving you a compact plant that won’t fall over.

Let me know your experiences with growing paperwhites! I’d love to hear any tips you have as well!