Keeping Paperwhites Indoors?

bosewichte(7a/8b)March 25, 2010

I've got 4 paperwhite bulbs...they sprouted beautifully, stayed healthy for a long time, and then the flowers dried up. I read online about what to do (cut off flower and stem but leave leaves to absorb nutrients). Everywhere I look, I see "Now plant the bulbs in your garden." I don't want to put them outside...I'd like to store them indoors and then force them to bloom this winter. Any ideas on this, or should I plant them outdoors, let them grow all summer, and then dig them up in the fall? Then I'm assuming I dry them, store them in a cool, dark place until I'm ready to plant and force. Could I keep the leaves growing in pots on the windowsill all summer? They're so pretty. Thanks!

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gardengal48

Unless you can plant them outdoors in an appropriate climate to vernalize naturally and recharge the bulbs, they won't return next winter/early spring. And forced bulbs do not have a good track record of returning regardless of care. All bulbs go through a dormant period - typically summer for narcissus - so leaving them on your windowsill will only work for awhile until the foliage dies off.

These bulbs are so inexpensive and readily available that if you don't have a garden environment suitable to plant them out (zone 8 or above), you might as well throw them away after the bloom cycle is finished. It is very unlikely these will ever bloom again.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 12:47PM
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bosewichte(7a/8b)

Thanks! I'll go ahead and plan on planting them outdoors asap. But...if I dig them up in the fall and pot them for winter bloom inside...will that be enough time (the summer) for them to re-charge and then bloom?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 2:34PM
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gardengal48

I think you may have missed the point I was trying to make :-) Forced paperwhites do not rebloom easily - in most cases, not at all. Unless you have the proper climate to grow them out of doors - and that's zone 7 or 8 and above - and even that often takes a couple of growing seasons for the bulbs to regenerate sufficiently to produce a bloom.

Planting them out now and harvesting them again in fall for forcing will not work or your chances for success are extremely limited at best. That's why I suggested just throwing out the bulbs and purchasing fresh at the appropriate time.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 9:08PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Paperwhites are actually daffodils in the Tazetta Division. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of different cultivars, some a lot hardier than others.

There is really no way of knowing exactly what cultivar yours are, (unless they were maybe labeled with the name of the cultivar), so they may or may not be hardy in your zone. I would just plant them out and hope for the best.

Forcing bulbs takes a lot out of them and they may not bloom the following spring, but if they are hardy, you will likely see some blooms the next spring.

If you enjoy forced bulbs, you might consider buying some that are hardy to your zone, and then force them and plant out in your garden until they recover and then force them every other, or every third year.

Sue

Here is a link that might be useful: Some tazetta (paperwhite) cultivars.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 12:29AM
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gardengal48

There seems to be some confusion regarding these bulbs, which are really quite tender. That is why they require no chill period and are able to be forced so easily. Maybe the link will help.

Here is a link that might be useful: paperwhites

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 9:07AM
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bosewichte(7a/8b)

I will do some research and see what bulbs are best for forcing. I'll get these in the garden this week!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 10:17AM
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gardengal48

Let me see if I can explain this more clearly :-)

Paperwhites, Narcissus papyraceus, are tender bulbs native to the Mediterranean region. They require a warm climate - zone 8 and above - to grow out of doors. Since you live in zone 5, they are NOT appropriate to your climate and will not survive outdoors.

And since the bulbs were forced, you will not be able to successfully store them indoors and still get them to rebloom. If they were grown in water and pebbles - one of the most common ways of forcing these bulbs - they will have difficulty surviving to rebloom even if planted out in a suitable climate. The water forcing process just depletes the bulb too much.

The best thing you can do is discard the bulbs now that they have finished blooming and get new bulbs to force again in fall when they are available in nurseries or other stores. The bottom line is these bulbs will not rebloom for you.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 10:47AM
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