Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Paperwhite Experiment Part 1: A Cunning Plan?

Last year we had some paperwhites (white narcissus) in bloom for Christmas. I was a little upset to discover that the general wisdom seems to be that the best thing to do with the bulbs, once they have finished flowering, is to bin them! This upset me so I planted the bulbs in a quiet shady corner of the garden once the frosts had passed thinking I would try and convince them to come back to life this winter.

Having done a bit of reading I decided to try and force them through an artificial dormant period in the hope of tricking them. Once the foliage died back (some time around July) I lifted the bulbs and set them to dry in a cool place. At the start of September I tucked the bulbs in the back of the fridge to attempt to simulate a bit of winter. This weekend (start of November) I have pulled them out and planted them again.

It is typical to plant paperwhites in an almost exclusively grit based compost but I have given mine a gritty compost mix - hopefully giving them enough nutrients to develop the bulbs again for next year. I shall keep you posted on what happens! Has anyone else tried forcing bulbs a second time and have any thoughts?

Gritty Compost

Broken crocks in the bottom to help with drainage

Fresh out the fridge

Ready for watering and sitting on a window still


  1. Never tried forcing - I have this weird hostility to making plants do things they're not meant to (don't put me anywhere near bonsai!)

    Hope you are successful though, I'll be happy if I can just get this year's bulbs into the soil ... various packets have been sitting in the shed for weeks!

    1. I think generally I would agree with you - I'm always happiest planting things in their natural conditions and climates and seeing them flourish.

    2. You're right Jenny, plants do best where they are meant to be. Florists and fashionistas will hate me but I don't go in for cut flowers either - why cut something and see it die in a few days? I'd much rather leave flowers outside to play their part in a diverse and healthy ecosystem.

  2. I have to admit that I threw mine last year. I was going to have a go at trying to get the amaryllis to flower again this year, but it seems too big a chore so I discarded that too. I hope you're successful.

    1. So far it hasn't been too much effort so if it works we'll let you know for next year :)


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