Posted on December 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Monday, Dec 10 at 11:56 AM
Paperwhites are some of the most beautiful flowers to have around the house this time of year, but they can sometimes be fussy when it comes to growing. Gardening Guru, Ciscoe Morris, has the scoop on how to force paperwhites to grow and last through the holidays!
How to force paper whites in your home:
Start with a watertight container. Any size will do, but containers at least 6 inches deep work the best.
Fill the container with decorative stones or marbles. Leave about 3 inches at the top for the bulbs.
Put the bulbs on top with the pointy side up. Cram them in closely.
The display looks better with big bunches of flowers, and the tight fit of the bulbs will help keep them from falling over.
Cover all but the top quarter of the bulbs with the decorative stones or marbles.
Fill with water until it just touches the base of the bulbs. Don't overfill. If the bulbs sit in water they'll rot.
Keep the bulbs in a cool location (around 65 degrees is perfect) making sure to refill as necessary to keep the water up to the base of the bulbs.
When growth begins, move the container to a sunny window.
When flowers occur, move the container where it can be displayed out of direct sunlight to make the flowers last longer.
Sometimes if conditions in our homes aren't perfect, the stems of paper whites grow too tall and thin and the weight of the flowers makes them topple over. Prevent this by getting your paper whites a little tipsy by giving them a shot of vodka when the stems reach about 5 inches tall. As a guideline add one tablespoon of vodka to every 7 tablespoons of water. The vodka burns the roots and slows growth. The stems will only get about half as tall, but the flowers will be just as big and fragrant as ever. Don't overdo the vodka. If you do, your drunk paper whites won't only embarrass you in front of visitors, all that partying might prevent them from blooming.
After the flower fades, toss the bulbs into the compost bin. Paper whites come from warm areas along the Mediterranean and aren't hardy enough to survive the winter outdoors in our area.
Gardening with Ciscoe airs every Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. right here on KING 5.
For more on Ciscoe, click HERE.