I can remember my Poppy sending us to the store for “Paper White” Narcissus bulbs in November. We would plant them on Thanksgiving Day. When we returned to my grandparents’ house on Christmas day, the bulbs would be in full bloom. In four weeks, the bulbs grew about 12 inches tall with small star-shaped flowers whose fragrance would fill the room.
“Paper Whites” are Tazetta Daffodils and they are descendants of fall blooming daffodils from Spain. They are not very cold hardy and commercially they are grown in Israel. Some popular cultivars are “Ziva,” ”Bethlehem,” and “Nazareth.” Also there is a double one call “Erlicheer” and a yellow cultivar called ”Grand Soleil d’Or’” and for those find the fragrance of the a little too strong there is “Inbal” that is almost fragrant free.
The bulbs can be planted in regular potting soil or in a dish with pebbles or glass beads. Just make sure the bottom of the bulb touches water. Keep them in a cool but sunny place until they bloom. To have bulbs blooming all winter, buy about 2 dozen bulbs and plant every few weeks. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant. This fast growing bulb is a great flower to teach children about plants. As a child, it seemed to me the “Paper White” was a real Christmas miracle.