Forcing Paperwhites: Budget Gardening Tip

Paperwhites, or Narcissus, are a very fragrant and easy to grow spring-blooming bulb. With a little advanced planning, the bulbs can be planted and bloom in the winter by “forcing.� Forcing means taking spring-blooming bulbs and tricking them into thinking they have slept though the winter, and that it’s now spring and time to bloom. These paperwhites from Smith and Hawken come in a cute galvanized mini bucket are a great deal for just $8.99.

How to Force Bulbs
Fill a shallow bowl or other container about halfway with decorative stones, gravel, or beach glass for a soil-less and decorative look. (Plain potting soil will work as well.) Place paperwhite bulbs into the stones or soil – just enough so that they are snug enough down in the stones or soil that they stand up properly and are anchored in place. Don’t worry about crowding the bulbs too tightly together – plant several bulbs close together so that the flowers blooms are close together.

Water them just enough to touch the bottoms of the bulbs, if the bases of the bulbs sit in water, the bulbs will rot and fail to bloom.

Place the containers in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks. When the bulbs begin to shoot roots out and shoots are coming out of the tops, place the pot in a brightly lit room. In 4-6 weeks, the paperwhites will bloom. Watch the water level carefully, as the bulbs in bloom can drink water quickly and may need water more frequently.