Controlled Chaos 

Decorating for the holidays and into the New Year wouldn’t be the same at Connecticut Country House without containers full of fragrant, blooming paper whites. It takes about 3-4weeks for these papery beauties to flower, so now’s the time to start potting them up. 

It’s easy. 

• Choose a container – I love to set them into an assortment of old clay pots and lined baskets. 

• Lay crushed stone or clay pot shards in bottom of container to provide drainage. 

• Fill container to 1-inch from the top with potting soil. 

• Place each bulb, pointed side up, about 1/3 into the soil, keeping bulb 2/3 above soil line. Cluster them closely, like eggs in a carton, for a fuller arrangement. 

• Place in a sunny spot and water well. 

• As they start to grow, they will push themselves out of the soil, so gently push them back in. 

• Use plant supports early – twigs and twine are natural supports. 

• Once they’re in bloom, and to keep them flowering longer, move them to a cooler spot (between 55-65°F) with indirect light. 

My readers always ask me how I keep them from flopping when they’re at full height. To be honest, I don’t. Within reason, I let them naturally do their thing. Initially staking the emerging plants with twigs and twine works – to a point. One day they’re casually elegant, and the next, they’re arching over the string like competing Olympic high jumpers.  

While a little “floppage” is okay in my book, sometimes it just gets too out of control. So I snip the wayward blooms and use them to create lasting arrangements. Paper whites make excellent cut flowers. I create my stem cuts at the top of the bulb, leaving behind the better-behaved, still upright flowering stems. After some order has been restored, I can enjoy these gorgeous, fragrant flowers in both their growing state, and as a pretty bouquet in a simple glass container. 

Happy decorating! 

Love, Nora