Name: Narcissus papyraceus aka paperwhite narcissus
Type of Plant: A perennial bulb to the Mediterranean but an annual in most of North America, this bulb is most frequently forced to produce fragrant flowers inside during the winter.
Why I Love This: Who doesn’t want more flowers in the dead of winter? Many of us also want fragrant flowers indoors, but more importantly we enjoy the process of watching these plants grow. We can enjoy seeing the shoots emerge from the top of the bulb while the roots stretch out from the bottom. First the dark green leaves emerge, then the fat flower spikes develop and finally the fresh white flowers open. And all of this happens in the dead of winter when we most need reminders of growth and renewal.
You can plant paperwhites in a pot of soil, a dish filled with pebbles or in the bottom of a wide but tall, clear vase. Just keep the water covering the roots but not the top of the bulb (so it doesn’t rot) and you can’t go wrong.
A Word to the Wise: No, you can’t save these after they finish flowering. If they aren’t hardy where you live the bulb will be using up all its reserves of energy to grow foliage and produce flowers. So be willing to say “Thanks for being here, it’s been great. Goodbye!” and throw the bulbs into the compost. With appreciation.