Late in the second week of December my husband and I went Christmas shopping and while we were out we picked up one of those boxed Christmas plants. Now, most years I buy one of those, a red amaryllis like the one shown above, for my mother. Mom has a green thumb and her amaryllis always grows fast and tall and blooms beautifully – lately they have been growing too fast and too tall and toppling over just about the time they start blooming, but they still look lovely and Mom still likes them. This year, however, I got a tiny poinsettia for Mom. Then I decided to get a different plant and to get it for me – I got the box with paperwhite bulbs.
We don’t have experience with paperwhite flowers. I’d seen some of the paperwhites blooming away on the pages of gardening catalogs and the covers of the boxes in stores. They looked like tiny white daffodils with abbreviated trumpets – quite charming, just what I wanted. For once I actually followed through and planted the bulbs within 24 hours of bringing the box home. I kept the bulbs moist and they started to grow.
The paperwhites grew fast. Everyone in the house was enjoying watching these plants grow. They started growing an inch a day! Now and then someone would say – “Have you been watching those plants on the windowsill? They’re growing like crazy!” We all felt a little more cheerful watching those bulbs grow. Then this week they were growing more like an inch and a half a day! Buds started forming and we knew they would bloom soon.
On Monday, the first bloom opened! Hurray! It was so pretty. The plant is up on the kitchen windowsill, almost a foot and a half tall, and the blossoms are about to get lost in the valance, they are up there so high. But they are pretty and make us all feel more cheerful because it is good to see something growing so willingly when it is cold and dark outdoors.
Now, I am not a good housekeeper so when I noticed an odd smell in the kitchen I got busy and washed out some dishes that need hand-washed – the things that tend to pile up when lazy people have a dishwasher. Later in the day I noticed that the odd smell still hadn’t left, so I put some baking soda down the sink and ran the garbage disposal. Then my husband started cleaning, too. We discussed the odd smell. He suspected there might be a dead mouse under the kitchen sink. I greeted this idea with appropriate disgust and cleaned a bit more. Still, when we examined things more closely the smell definitely wasn’t coming from under the sink either.
Then… the resident son-in-law said, “Have you smelled those flowers? Have kind of an odd scent to them.” I smelled the flowers. Odd is putting it mildly. I had my husband smell them – he really didn’t appreciate me for not warning him. Honestly folks, paperwhites are beautiful flowers and will cheer you up on dark winter days, but if you decide to grow them put them in a room with a lot of ventilation – a LOT. If you don’t mind the smell, it is an inexpensive way to cheer up your winter. However, the scent is enough to make me miss geraniums – and I used to hate the scent of geraniums.
I kept the box for the instructions. The picture on the box shows each paperwhite stalk with a lot of blossoms on it. I’m not sure we will survive if this one blooms that much! I’m thinking I need to look for a growing kit for freesias because I know I like the scent of those flowers.
Great info on getting an amaryllis to bloom, the first time, and for years to come. It is the source of the photo of the amaryllis.
This site teaches you how to force paperwhite bulbs to bloom and is the source of the paperwhite photo I have posted.
Site telling about an effort to commemorate the War of 1812, the establishment of Canada as a country, and making the red geranium the official symbol of that war. It is the source of the photo of the red geraniums.
I have to tell you that from the time I decided to make this a blog post and include some photos I have learned a whole lot about the plants I mentioned. Even something as simple as sharing my experience with growing a plant in my window has made me research and expand my knowledge. I found it to be fun and informative, and only frustrating because I closed sites too quickly and had to search them out again so I could share the links with you. Now I’m going to have to get busy and learn to use my Paperwhite Kindle… which I already know is going to take me some time and several helpers.
What do you do to keep from getting depressed during the winter months? Do those things ever backfire on you? Please post a comment and share your experiences with me. I’d like to know more about you.