I wish I wasn’t so predictable. Almost two years ago to the day, I posted about starting paperwhites indoors for a beautiful holiday centerpiece. And now here I am again – back to remind you that if you enjoy having fragrant paperwhites around for the holidays, the time to start them from bulbs is now.
My earlier post explained in detail how to force paperwhite bulbs indoors, so I won’t go into that here. If you’ve never forced paperwhite bulbs before, that post is very helpful.
I’m just starting my paperwhites for this season, but I thought it would be fun to share what I did last year.
Finding the Look
To me, the fun of growing paperwhites is choosing the right combination of container, pebbles (natural or glass), and decorative accents such as moss, twigs, berries, even shells, to make an attractive display.
The possibilities are endless. I used all kinds of containers last year: A silver urn, a vintage porcelain candy dish, a ceramic urn, and some glass containers.
I started one bulb in a small jar. Then I placed that jar inside a larger jar and lined the inside with moss.
The end result is a paperwhite that appears to be sprouting out of the moss. On the other arrangements, I hid the pebbles under a blanket of moss to give the arrangements a softer, natural look.
I created a vignette with a lichen-covered branch from the garden for a little natural texture – and drama. This photo shows the stage I enjoy the most – when the first flowers are beginning to bloom.
I moved the silver urn to the front porch. In moderate climates, paperwhites are usually fine in a protected area outdoors. In fact, I’m going to play around with that idea more this year: Blooming paperwhites in containers on the front porch.
The silver urn still needed a little something so I shopped my garden for twigs and more lichens.
Adding free or inexpensive natural accents always makes the arrangement look elegant. And in the dead of winter, it’s fun to bring the outdoors in.
Paperwhites as Gifts
I started a few arrangements to give as gifts. They are wonderful hostess gifts. Throughout the year, I kept an eye out at thrift stores and estate sales for anything water tight that would make a unique paperwhite container. I looked for attractive vases and urns, vintage milk glass bowls, vintage footed candy dishes, and cute pitchers or jugs.
Here I used mostly glass containers – some just large jars. The fun of using clear glass containers is that, as the bulb begins to sprout, so does its root system, and you can actually see the roots winding between the pebbles (although not so visible in the photo below).
Wired craft store berries are an attractive addition, but they also serve as stakes to keep the paperwhite blossoms upright as they grow.
With each arrangement, I included a card explaining how to care for the paperwhites.
The card read:
Caring for Paperwhites:
Keep the water level just below the bottom of the bulb so that the roots are immersed. These bulbs should start blooming in a week or so. They can be enjoyed indoors – or outdoors in a protected area. Once the bulbs have finished blooming, they can be tossed into the compost bin.
Then they were boxed up and ready for giving.
They hadn’t yet started to bloom when I gave them away, but that was actually a good thing. The recipient could enjoy the show – and the fragrance – when the blooms began.
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