Force Paperwhites

Their strong fragrance causes some folks to turn up their noses at paperwhites but there’s much to like about these bulbs, including how easy it is to force them into bloom in time for the holidays. Pick a glass container or waterproof a basket with plastic sheeting. The sides of either should be 4-inches or more high. Fill the firm bulbs tightly together on top. Then add water to cover the base of the bulbs. Allowing the bottom of the bulbs to sit in water stimulates growth. Check bulbs daily to see if they need more water. Keep in a cool dark spot and maintain the water level until the bulbs sprout – about 10 days. Bulbs don’t need light at this stage and they prefer to be kept cool at 65degrees F. Then move to a sunny spot and, in a month, you’ll enjoy the snow-white flowers. Once the plants flower, they’ll last longer if moved out of the sunlight to a cooler location. After the bloom, discard the bulbs since they won’t flower again. Forced paperwhites tend to grow tall and often flop over. This can be prevented by growing them in a solution of 4-6 percent alcohol and water. For more information see the article by researchers in the Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell University: http://www.hort.cornell.edu/department/faculty/wmiller/bulb/Pickling_your_Paperwhites.pdf.

 

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