Connecticut Garden Journal: The Fragrant Paperwhite Narcissus | Connecticut Public Radio
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Connecticut Garden Journal: The Fragrant Paperwhite Narcissus

Dec 14, 2018

If you want to add some fragrant, holiday flowers to your home, grow paperwhite narcissus. Paperwhites are small, flowered daffodils and feature fragrant flowers. The beauty of paperwhites is they're easy to force into bloom indoors this time of year. Simply pot them up and they'll be in bloom three to four weeks later.

While we think of white as the flower color of paperwhites, there are other varieties. Try the yellow flowered 'Bethlehem' or white and yellow flowered 'Chinese Sacred Lily.' Some varieties even have double flowers.

The attractiveness of the scent seems open to debate. I love them, but my wife doesn't. Our paperwhites end up in my office when they're in full bloom for this reason.

But they are easy to grow. Either pot them in a container filled with moistened potting soil or grow them in vases with water. Fill the vase so the water is just below the bottom of the bulb and the paperwhites will grow to the water.

Place the pot or vase in a bright window in a cool room. Lack of light or temperatures above 65 degrees will cause paperwhites to grow leggy. You may need to support the flower stalks with a stake as well. To keep the plants stocky, grow paperwhites in an alcohol mixture. Mix one part 40 percent distilled liquor spirit with seven parts water to get a 5 percent alcohol solution. When the shoots are 2 inches tall, replace the water with this alcohol mixture and the plants will stay dwarf.

Paperwhites are not hardy outdoor bulbs, so after forcing them indoors, simply toss them in the compost pile.