Force the issue

Planting paperwhites for the holidays

Narcissus bulbs make a lovely green display during the holiday season and they happily bloom by planting in nothing more than water, stones or beach glass. If you are forcing bulbs for the holidays — now is the time to start.
Purchase firm, blemish free bulbs.Pour in two inches of pebbles or beach glass into a tall container for built-in support or a round bowl works well too and then you can add a festive ribbon for support.Add up to two tablespoons of rinsed charcoal (get this from the indoor plant section, it keeps the water smelling sweet) then add another layer of pebbles.Place bulbs in the container with the root-side down so that they are almost touching each other. Add tepid water to just below the bottom of bulbs.Count backwards on your calendar to gift-giving time or when you want a full display going in your home — paperwhite bulbs will bloom in four to six weeks.If you don’t want to start your paperwhites right away, or you want them blooming in waves make sure you have some in reserve for a staggered display just make sure to store them in a cool, dry spot.Now that you’ve forced your narcissus you may wonder about their care — we’ll have that step-by-step next week along with information on adding a splash of color to your palette with amaryllis bulbs.