Winter Delight Narcissus

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Many times the classification of plants can be very confusing. Such is the case of genus narcissus, which includes the commonly named daffodils, jonquils and tazetts in addition to all the flowers we usually call narcissus. For most of us the narcissus are most commonly known as paperwhites – a delicate flower that packs a powerful fragrance punch. Out of the entire narcissus family, the paperwhite is the most popular, as well as being the most interesting. Forcing paperwhites is an easy, quick and undemanding introduction to enjoying flowing bulbs in the dead of winter. Paperwhites are native to the warm Mediterranean and are excellent for us here because unlike other bulbs, they do not require a cold period to flower. Flowering time is generally a month and totally worth the wait. Purchasing paperwhites is easy and available at any garden center or nursery from early fall through winter. Considering their quick cultivation, you can have this beautiful delicate flower in your home blooming from November to late spring. As all my garden winter chores end, I find myself seeking a project that rewards me with color and interest in my home throughout the cold winter months. The paperwhites are my reminder that soon spring will be in the air. I will pass the time away enjoying continuous flowers indoors that will remind me of my garden soon to return.

Here is what you will need for this project:

- A supply of paperwhite bulbs for your project
- Any size package of gravel or soil available by the pound
- Glass vase or individual glass containers as shown or any interesting pot or container such as terra cotta, wood, or ceramic (Use potting soil for porous containers such as wood and terra cotta)

No need to place these bulbs in the refrigerator, just keep them in a brown paper bag in a dry place at room temperature until ready to plant. If the stems start to grow more than 2 inches, plant within a day or two.

Take your package of gravel (I like to use small slate-colored gravel and fill about 1/3 of your glass container). Place your bulbs and add water to just hitting your bulbs roots. Maintain your water level and watch that bulb does not dry out. I love to recycle my old "Mar" glass candle containers for this project. They’re perfect for placing individual bulbs on the mantel to add interest to my holiday greenery. For growing paperwhites in pots, place three inches of soil in the bottom of a five-inch deep or deeper pot with good drainage. Place your bulbs close together and add more soil until the bulbs are half covered. Water thoroughly to settle, then add more soil or until the bulbs are about three quarters covered. For paperwhites in glass containers, use gravel and keep the water level up to the bottom of the bulbs to cover the roots.

Growing paperwhites can be a fun experience and can be enjoyed by children as well. These bulbs grow and flower quickly, and their progress can be watched daily. This is an inexpensive project and even better when given as a gift. I always select a special pot for the person who will get this gift, and I include all the necessary ingredients.

And there you have it.