Magazine article Sunset

How to Force Paperwhites

Magazine article Sunset

How to Force Paperwhites

Article excerpt

Coax the sweet spring-flowering bulbs into winter bloom in pebble- and water-filled glass bowls

FRAGRANT, SNOWY WHITE FLOWERS atop grasslike foliage make paperwhites (Narcissus) favorite indoor plants in winter. Forcing the bulbs to bloom for the holidays-ahead of their normal spring cycle-couldn't be easier: Just nestle a few bulbs among pebbles in a water-filled bowl and set them in a cool place with bright daylight until buds start to swell (typically in three to four weeks). Then display them on an entry or dining table singly or in clusters of three, as pictured. A single bulb-filled bowl also makes a perfect hostess gift for a holiday party (just be sure to plan ahead so the plants will be ready to bloom in time for the party).

Shop for bulbs at nurseries this month, or order them from a specialist such as Easy to Grow Bulbs (easytogrowbulbs.com or 866/725-53(51) or John Scheepers (johnscheepers.com 860/567-0838). Choose varieties such as 'Ziva' (pictured, which bears large, fragrant snow white flowers) or 'Inbal' (which has a slightly lighter scent and larger flowers); both are available from the above retailers.

Unlike some bulbs, paperwhites don't require chilling, so you can force them as soon as you get them. They'll bloom for up to two weeks.

Materials and directions

For bloom by Christmas, start bulb bowls by late November. Cost per bowl: $io to $15 for bulbs and materials. Assembly time: 5 to 10 minutes. You'll need:

* A small glass bowl about 3 in. …

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