Water Culture: Forcing Paperwhites Water Culture: Forcing Paperwhites

Water culture is an easy, mess-free way to force bulbs during the winter. Paperwhites are perfect for this type of bulb forcing because they don't require the chill time that other bulbs (such as hyacinths or tulips) require. In as little as six weeks, you can have beautiful blooming paperwhites to remind you that spring is right around the corner!

First of all, choose your container. The container should be low and wide, about three to five inches deep and should have no drainage holes. Glass is beautiful for water culture because it shows off the roots as well as the anchoring pebbles or marbles. Another good choice is a ceramic pot in a color of your choosing.

For anchoring materials, you can choose from colored pebbles, small stones, or even marbles. A gardening center or even a pet store (in the fish tank section) will offer you a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Be sure to wash and rinse your anchoring materials well so that they are free of chemicals and dirt when you go to use them.

To get started with your water culture, place your anchoring materials in the container, filling it 1/2 to 3/4 full. Next, nestle the bulbs into the marble (or pebble) base. It doesn't matter if the bulbs are close to one another, but make sure that they are secure by arranging more of your anchoring materials around them.

Add water to your container, but be careful to fill only just below the bulb base-line. It's best if the water does not touch the bulbs, as the water can cause the bulbs to rot. You will have to check the water level for the next few weeks since evaporation can take place (and the bulbs, when they root, will naturally soak up some of the water).

Place the bulbs in a dark, cool place for a couple of weeks. This will encourage them to root. Afterwards, you can move them into a sunny room. If your bulbs are blooming, move them to a cooler area at night to promote longer-lasting flowers.

Other bulb forcing may require longer waits and more careful timing. Paperwhites have a relatively short forcing schedule, and therefore you can plant them in stages, staggering your planting sessions so you can have blooming paperwhites all winter long.

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