Although I live in a Faux French Chateau, I decorate with only real evergreen garlands and sprigs and like to bring the outdoors in for the holidays! My memories of Christmas with my little family encompasses not only the sights of Christmas but the glorious smells of fresh evergreens and blooming plants.
One of my favorite ways to decorate for Christmas is with containers of beautiful Paperwhite Narcissus blooming throughout my house. Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus, (forcing them to bloom for a specified occassion) is easy and relatively inexpensive.
Paperwhites tied with ribbon! (Courtesy of Country Living Magazine)
Yesterday I went to a local Fort Worth, Texas plant and gift shop named "Into the Garden." I spent some time with the horticulturist there and he graciously shared with me some of his tips on forcing these bulbs. (www.intothegardentx.com ) I've forced bulbs to enjoy at Christmas numerous times but I love to pick up new ideas from "experts" especially when they are passionate about what they do and love to share their helpful tips.
To force Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs to bloom for enjoying this Christmas you need to "plant" them 4 to 6 weeks in advance. TIMING is the KEY! Soooooooooooooooooo you'd better get started!
Here's what you need:
* A container - glass vase, bowl or appropriate container without drainage holes. Keep in mind that the flower stems will grow very tall so you can use a tall container if you like. (I purchased the glass cubes seen below from The Dollar Tree for $1.00 each!)
* Rocks, sea glass or marbles - (I purchased "Accent Rocks" at Dollar Tree for, yes you guessed it, $1.00 per bag!)
* Paperwhite narcissus bulbs - (I purchased mine at Into the Garden for $1.33 each)
Various containers, river stones, Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs and fresh new moss to add to some of my containers.
Here's how you do it:
1. Fill the bottom of your container with about two to four inches of stones, sea glass or marbles. These elements allow the bulb's roots to grow toward the water and stabilize the bulb without allowing the bulbs to get too wet. If the bulbs are submerged in the water, they can rot!
Glass cube container showing river stones.
2. Place Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs, pointed tip facing upward, on top of the stones. For a full, lush look, place the bulbs close together. This also helps to stabilize the bulbs until the roots have attached to the stones. Make sure the bulbs are not sitting in the water.
For this wire container, I added new, fresh moss for lining and then inserted a plastic storage container filled with the river stones and bulbs. Notice the bulbs are snuggle up close to each other!
3. Add water. Add just enough water so the level is below the base of the bulbs but is wetting the roots.
You have just prepared your Paperwhites for "forcing!"
Now, a few additional tips.
Keep your bulbs in a cool (50 - 60 degree Farenheit) area out of direct sunlight for a couple of weeks or until the roots have grown. After this initial "acclimation" period, place your containers in a bright, warm spot. Keep in mind that the more sunlight and warmth the bulbs are exposed to, the faster they will grow and bloom. I watch mine, and if I need them to grown more quickly, I move them to an area where they will receive more direct sunlight.
Check the bulbs from time to time, adding more water as needed to keep the roots wet.
If the flower stems grow so tall that they start to fall over, I like to tie natural raffia ribbon around the middle of the stems. This not only stabilizes the stems but it is also very pretty. You can also use bamboo garden support stakes.
These containers of Paperwhites, especially when they begin to grow, will make wonderful and inexpensive gifts. Wrap a beautiful bowed ribbon ("un ruban") around the container! Each of these cubes of Paperwhite Narcissus cost me less than $10!
Great gift idea!
Paperwhites in a new blue and white container.
I hope you enjoyed this posting and I hope it gave you ideas for your own Christmas (Noël) decorating!
Au revoir, Mitty