Premature Paperwhites

Paperwhite Narcissi

What is it with me and Paperwhite Narcissi? For the umpteenth year running the flowers are out, in all their beautifully perfumed glory, a good three weeks before Christmas.

I learnt long ago not to plant them as soon as the bulbs arrive.  This only results in a glorious festive display……in October.  Last year I tried planting as recommended, 6 weeks before Christmas, only to have them flower three weeks later.

This year I had almost decided to give up and buy them from a garden centre at the last moment, so we’d be guaranteed a lovely display on the 25th.  But no, I was not going to be defeated by a few flaky bulbs.  Keep them in the fridge until the end of November to trick them into believing it’s deepest winter I thought, that will slow them down. And the result?  Two weeks later, two bowls full of deliciously scented white daffs, filling the flat with the scent of Christmas.  The only improvement my chilling treatment seems to have brought about is slightly shorter stems and leaves.

So, come Christmas they’ll be long gone again. If anyone has any ideas how I can hold back these overexcitable bulbs next year, please let me know. Otherwise I might try planting petunias instead.

Below, potted Paperwhites grace a sidewalk in New York’s Flower District.

Paperwhites in the New York Flower District