Fragrant Narcissus

    • Naked lady amaryllis have lovely, fragrant pink flowers that bloom in late summer with little or no care. Plant the bulbs, available at local nurseries, now.
    • Protect the pond from the worst of the leaf fall with a fine-mesh net over the surface of the pond.
    • Plant pansies, snapdragons, stock, calendulas and primroses now to replace summer annuals.
    • Look for rich, bright colors in the foliage of deciduous trees and shrubs. Burning bush, fothergilla, snowball bush and maple trees are beautiful right now.
    • Garlic sets can be planted now for an easy crop that you can harvest next spring. Choose from hard-neck, soft-neck or Elephant garlic varieties now available.

Enjoy the Sweet Fragrance of Paperwhites

Paperwhites are miniature Narcissus that produce bunches of fragrant, white or yellow flowers. They are the easiest winter bulbs to bring into flowering indoors. In fact, doing so is a tradition for many people. Their bright flowers and sweet fragrance can brighten up even the dreariest winter day.

A point of confusion often arises over the use of the name Narcissus. Narcissus is the botanical name for the genus that includes many similar spring-flowering bulbs. The larger, trumpet flowers are commonly called Daffodils while the small flowered Paperwhites and China Lilies are commonly called Narcissus.

Paperwhites are quite easy to force into early bloom, as they are native to the Mediterranean region and don’t require cold temperatures to blossom. The first step is buying the bulbs. Bigger is better in this case, as these bulbs will produce more and larger flowers. Bulbs are sold by circumference: the distance around the bulb, like a belt. Narcissus which are 16-17 cm. (or 6-1/2 inches) around will be about 2-1/4 inches in diameter, and are a good size for forcing.

Narcissus can be grown in bowls with pebbles in water, or in pots with potting soil. To grow in water, select a bowl 4 to 6 inches deep; fill it with pebbles; nestle the bulbs into the pebbles about half way. The bulbs should almost be touching each other.

Add only enough water to just touch the base of the bulbs. Check the level twice a week and add a little water as needed to keep the level fairly constant. As the roots emerge, they will work their way down into the water.

To grow them in pots, select a shallow pot with drainage holes, and plant the bulbs so that just their tips are showing. Water the pot and keep it just barely moist until the bulbs sprout. Then keep the soil evenly moist.

Put the containers in a cool, shaded room until the leaves reach 3 inches tall. Then bring the plants gradually into the light over a period of about a week and watch them bloom.

They will bloom in 4 to 6 weeks from the time you plant them. Paperwhites are the fastest bloomers. You can plan ahead for lovely, fragrant table decorations for the holiday season by timing your planting correctly.

You might make two plantings a week apart to be sure of having flowers at the perfect stage for your holiday table.

Narcissus can also be grown outdoors in the ground. Plant them 5 inches deep and 6 inches apart in a sunny location. They will be some of the first bulbs to bloom in the spring, and will delight you with their fragrant blossoms every year.

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