Paperwhites, or narcissus, are often forced (that is, made to flower outside their normal flowering period) for the holidays. After forcing, they seldom rebloom. You can try planting the bulbs in your garden after all danger of frost has passed, but it’s easier to toss them into the compost pile and start with fresh, new bulbs next year. When grown in the garden, paperwhites need sun and well-drained soil.
Narcissus refers to a genus that includes daffodils, paperwhites, jonquils and other bulbs—but most of us think of the big, trumpet-shaped flowers as daffodils and the small, white ones as narcissus. (When they’re grown around the holidays, narcissus are often called paperwhites.) 'Golden Harvest,' shown here, is a vigorous, early-flowering bulb that dates back almost 100 years. Like other bulbs in this genus, narcissus should be planted in autumn.
Give the true gift of growing with a beautiful basket of paperwhites that will fill a garden lover’s home with delicious scent and lovely flowers even in the depths of winter.
Blooming Paperwhite Basket, $60
Usher in the winter season with texture. Dig through your cabinets or scout thrift shops for patterned vases and bowls, which can be filled with pinecones and bulbs, like these paperwhites selected by Karin Jeffcoat of Cote Designs in South Carolina. Instead of matching pieces, use different components, finishes and designs to give the tabletop an informal, eclectic look.
Vintage buckets can be found in all shapes, sizes, materials and colors. This metal dry-goods bucket makes a great holder for a live rosemary plant to give to the chef or gardener in your life. Buckets can also be filled with miniature Christmas trees or winter flowers like paperwhites. Include tips on caring for the plant on the back of the gift tag.
No matter what makes someone cherish a plant, for it to remain a garden favorite it must tolerate a wide range of soils and climates. The bright red berries of heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), the large winter flowers of Camellia japonica ‘Pink Perfection’, and the fragrant stems of paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) are from plants grown at my family home place for over 75 years with no care at all. And they have been shared from cuttings and divided clumps and bulbs throughout our whole family.