Saturday, December 20, 2008

Forcing Paperwhites

After a busy week away from this address, it's good to be back and getting ready for the holiday season. The first week of December I started forcing several narcissus bulbs. In a re-purposed glass ice bucket, partly filled with black polished stones, three bulbs were nestled snugly to fit. The bucket was filled with water to the top of the stones and the very bottom of the bulbs. The bucket was stashed in the unheated storage room. A small amount of water was added every day to keep the water level just reaching the bottom of the bulbs.

Within four days of cool, dark isolation, roots started to appear. The stalks started to grow and by day six the ice bucket, now, holiday planter was brought upstairs into the natural light. Each day the bulbs have grown above and below the water line. It's a fascinating process, and one I have marveled over each year at this time.

With luck, the fragrant flowers will open by Christmas, adding their beautiful simplicity to this address. When they start growing taller and seem ready to tip, I'll add a small stake and tie them together with a ribbon. A gardening friend recommends adding vodka to the water to slow the growth in height and keep them standing straighter. Vodka apparently affects plants and mammals differently.

Try forcing paperwhites as a gift to yourself or a friend. Bulbs make good gifts too, if you're still looking for a perfect gift for the perfect friend who has everything!

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