Paperwhite narcissus

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Despite being the ultimate “add water and watch ’em flower” bulb, I am not always successful with these. I view lack of success as anything on the scale of not all in the same container flowering at once, through few blooms on each stem to no flowers at all (total failure). I’ve experienced all levels. Sometimes it is possible that the bulbs were not prepared properly so they won’t flower, or only poorly, despite my best efforts, but generally I think I have not been able to provide optimal growing conditions; why do I bother? Because when it works, I love the results.

Best method so far, results of trial and quite a lot of error:

When to start? Some instructions suggest they should be planted on receipt but that could result in very early flowers, while there are still plants blooming in the garden. Mine don’t seem to have come to harm being stored in a paper bag in the garage which is dry, fairly cool and low light levels, but only for a couple of weeks at most.

First I set them upright in a saucer of water so that only the base of the bulb is wet. They can propped with pebbles. Leave in a cool area with low light levels (the garage) until roots begin to appear on some of the bulbs. The ones with the best roots I plant among pebbles in a vase with water covering only the base of the bulbs so the roots are in water but the bulbs are dry so should not rot. Leave in garage (cool, low light levels) until the roots are well established and the green shoots have started to grow. Bring them into a warmer, well-lit area such as a window sill until the stems are taller and flower buds are almost open when they can be transferred to the room to be seen. They will last longer if conditions are not too warm and dry.

The rest of the bulbs should develop roots in their saucer and can be planted up according to root growth, to provide a succession of blooms over a period.