How to Plant Paperwhites
Every year the kids and I plant paperwhite bulbs indoors. When the blooms open they fill the apartment with a heady fragrance. Many paperwhite enthusiasts time their plantings to bloom at Christmas, but I prefer to plant them later. Their blooms are the perfect pick-me-up for droopy, gloomy January days.
Paperwhites are perfect for the indoor gardening novice. They rarely fail to bloom and unlike other bulbs, they do not need to be pre-chilled.
There are two ways to plant them: in pebbles or in soil.
Gather your materials:
- Containers — if you plan on using stones, chose jars with a wide mouth and no drainage hole. If you are using soil, your container must have a drainage hole to prevent rot.
- Growing medium — either stones or soil. You could also use colored glass stones, which would be gorgeous.
- Bulbs — as many as you want. Bulbs take well to crowding, so fit as many in each container that you can
Step one: Fill containers with stones (or soil) at least 3 inches. The roots will need some space to grow but relatively shallow containers are fine. A large round dish filled with multiple bulbs would be very pretty!
Step two: Nestle each bulb slightly into the stones so they are stable and add a few extra stones around the edges. If you are using soil, fill so that the top half of the bulb is above the soil line.
Step three: If using pebbles, add water until the very bottom of the bulb is wet, but no more or the bulbs will rot. With soil, add water until evenly moist.
Step four: Place bulbs in a sunny, warm window. Roots will start to appear in 1-2 weeks and the tops will begin to sprout about the same time. Blooms will grace your living space about one month later.
Step five: If using stones, check water level every other day or daily if the air in your home is especially dry. You want the water to keep the roots, but not the bulb, wet. If you planted the bulbs in soil you just need to water as soon as the soil feels dry.
By far the hardest part of apartment living is not having a yard because I absolutely love to garden. Fortunately there are a variety of indoor plants that my kids and I can grow. Taking care of plants (even indoors) teaches kids responsibility; it gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment to see plants thrive.
Also, they’re pretty.
Perfect book to go along with this activity is Paperwhite. Cut paper collages follow the story of a girl bunny who plants paperwhites and eagerly watches their progress.
I bought the stones at IKEA, but you can also find them at craft stores or online.
My favorite resources for bulbs are Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, but most hardware and gardening centers will also carry paperwhites in the fall and early winter.
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