The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Winter scent

If you want a flower to get you through the dark days of winter then you can't go far wrong with the Narcissus 'Paper White'. 
It is one of the easiest bulbs for forcing into growth as they do not require any chilling, all you do is pot them up and water and then they will start to grow. Though its better to start them off in a cooler place away from direct sunlight and then move them into a warmer area when ready to flower, this will keep them flowering for longer. From planting to flowering takes about 4-6 weeks. So if you want some flowers for Christmas then now is a good time to plant.
Paperwhites are cultivated varieties of the species Narcissus papyraeus (from papyrus and aceus; meaning paper-like), which is native to the eastern Mediterranean and so they thrive in the warmth of our homes in winter. Though they will flower for longer in slightly cooler temperatures of 50–65 °F (10–18°C). They produce multi-heads of delicate white daffodil flowers but the best thing about them is their scent which is very strong,
They can grow quite tall and do have the habit of toppling over so some sort of  support is often needed. Though Alys Fowler posted on her Guardian blog that " at Cornell University they found that if they gave the bulb some water with a shot of alcohol, this didn't happen; instead, you get the same size blooms on shorter, stouter stems. The consensus is that when the top growth is about 15-20cm tall, change the water so that it has a shot of vodka (or gin) mixed in and they'll learn to stand up straight". So maybe I could give a shot of vodka a try! 
You can grow them in soil or just in shallow bowls of water.
I've been quite organised this year and bought some bulbs in bulk and I've been planting them at 2-4 week intervals so that I'll always have some in flower through the winter. They have been scenting my living room with a delicious spicy aroma. Though I've just been googling Paperwhite daffs and the scent is definitely not to everyone's taste, with descriptions ranging from smelly socks to manure! Its seems like some people are sensitive to the chemicals in the scent and just don't like it.
I would suggest they make lovely Christmas presents, but if your friend or relative has an aversion to the smell they may not be very popular!


  1. You'd think that alcohol would make them fall, it usually does when I drink it. Such gorgeous flowers, well done for staggering the planting, I wish I could be so disciplined.

  2. I must grow some next year. I'll have to forego the alcohol though as I keep none at home. As for the scent I've a poor sense of smell so reckon that I'll be okay! Flighty xx

  3. Mine have just come into flower too - I quite like their musky scent and it is nice to get something in flower at this time of year.

  4. I'm unfortunately one of those that can't stand the smell. I really want to love them. I love the idea of them and the flowers are so beautiful but the smell makes me feel sick. :( I'd be interested in the alcohol theory though. I wonder if it would work with other bulbs too. My hyacinths always flop.