May 10, 2013

DIY Friday: Growing Paperwhites Indoor Tutorial

While in the process of leveling out the backyard to put in some raised vegetable beds, I excavated about two dozens wild paperwhite bulbs. They have been there since we've moved in and every winter they greet us with their tiny white flowers and long green stems. Feeling bad for evicting them, I did some research and discovered that the bulbs can be force indoor. Forcing bulbs indoor basically means growing the bulbs indoor in water or soil. Since I have never grown bulbs in water before, I'm excited to try it out!

- Paperwhite bulbs
- Glass container
- Chicken wire
- River rocks

1. Filled half of the container with the river rocks. 
2. Carefully cut out a piece of chicken wire and fold it over the top of the container. Leave a 1 inch margin around the chicken wire so that you can fold it over the container, creating a cap.
3. Place the bulbs on top of each hexagon on the chicken wire so that the roots dangle down into the container.
4. Add enough water so the roots are submerged in the water but the bulbs are not sitting in water.

- Southern Living: Your Guide to Paperwhites
- Apartment Therapy: How to Grow Paperwhites
- Camille Style: Paperwhites Centerpiece

So I started by following the instructions provided in the references (above) but quickly faced an obstacle. Growing bulbs in water is harder than it looks! After placing a few bulbs in rocks and water to grow, I noticed that the body of the bulbs were absorbing a lot of water very quickly. I took the wet bulbs out and discovered that a few have rotted through. From my observation, I discovered that the bulbs should not be sit in water because it would just absorbed the water and end up rotting. I came up with a solution by building my own setup where only the roots would be submerge in the water. Using chicken wire, I suspended the bulbs above the water so that only the roots touches the water and the body remain dry. I love how the chicken wire adds an architectural element while serving as an important structural support tool. With this new setup, I hope the bulbs are able to survive the summer season and bloom again.

PaperwhitesPaper whitesGrowing Paperwhites

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