Forcing Paperwhites for the Holidays

In an effort to continue gardening through winter, I have decided to try some extra indoor gardening this year.  I have a garden window that looks pretty sparse these days, so I’m going to try my hand at forcing bulbs.


Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are popular indoor plants for winter and the holiday season. Unlike other narcissus, paper whites don’t require a chilling period, so forcing them is as easy as putting the bulbs in water and waiting. The fragrant flowers bloom within about 3 weeks of planting, for almost instant gratification.

I tried a few websites first, just to take a look at the varieties that might be available.  The shipping charges for these items were enough to have me running  to my local Home Depot and checking out my luck there.  I found the Paperwhite Ziva variety, 6 bulbs to a package.  They appear to be pretty healthy, and anxious to start growing!


I used one of my favorite planters, one that does not have drainage holes in the bottom, spread a layer of glass stones on the bottom.  I then placed 3 of the bulbs in the stones, anchored them slightly in the stones, and then placed more stones around them.

Water the stones until the bulbs are touching the water.  You don’t want to cover the bulbs with water as they will rot.

Now all you have to do is wait!  But only 3 or 4 weeks.  I will be starting another planter in 2 weeks, so that the show will continue through the holidays.


A Few of My Favorite Garden Reads

In the midst of the growing season, I rarely have time to pick up a book and read.  With time for reading at a premium, I have subscribed and unsubscribed to many gardening magazines.  They are great for inspiration and for ideas when the urge strikes to change things up a bit in the yard.  My absolute favorite gardening magazine is GardenGate.

garden gate

Alice introduced me to this ‘zine on one of our bus trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show.  In addition to being a fantastic reference, this magazine arrives ready for cataloging.  It is punched with 3-holes so I keep every issue in a binder.  The accompanying website includes reference guides so you can pinpoint any category in an issue.  It’s very informative, and not one advertisement, which is so refreshing!

I have a few garden books, and then I have my favorites.

photo 1

Aunt Jane introduced me to the Reader’s Digest book called “Success with Houseplants“.

She saw how much I enjoyed flipping through it, even as a young girl.
She sent me a copy of my own that I still have today.

Before I had a yard to plant in, my indoor gardens were a product of many hours spent perusing this book.  The drawings that are included helped me identify the plants I had, and the sections on propagating helped me create new specimens to share with friends.

Another book devoted to flowering plants is “The Complete Garden Flower Book”.

This volume contains perennials, annuals, roses, clematis, orchids – every possible flowering plant in the yard.  I have gone through this book so many times, and have it marked with post-it notes by color, marking all the specimens that I have and specimens I’d like to have.  It’s my favorite resource for learning where to plant and how to care for just about every plant in my yard.  The pictures are extremely helpful for identifying many of the plants I come across in my travels.  I picked it up at a book sale that was held by a former employer.  It’s my ultimate “go to” source for “Can you name that plant?”