I love the look of natural materials such as bark and rocks with polished silver, so I decided to plant a group of paperwhite narcissus in a silver-plated Revere bowl. We all know, however, what happens when these fragrant-flowering bulbs get tall enough to bloom…the stems tend to flop over. Forget the advice about putting gin or other alcohol in the water to stunt their growth…that usually stunts the flowers too, and who needs that? Here’s a way to have the joy of watching your narcissus develop and grow, and provide a rustic, natural support for the taller stems.
I placed the paperwhite bulbs in a bowl of beach rocks…perfect because we all know that damp beach rocks show their colors beautifully, right? This is an old silver-plated Revere bowl and not precious, so if the bulbs and rocks stained the inside it wasn’t a problem. If you want your bowl to remain shiny and sliver, however, use a liner before filling.
Part of the joy of growing these indoors is watching them develop and grow. Once the narcissus are about five or six inches tall it’s time to provide support. Here’s how I did it…
I picked a couple of long tangles of bittersweet vine. This is a problem plant in the wild where I live, so it’s easy to find growing on the edges of a property or along the roadside. In other parts of the country other vines can be used including wild grape. You could even use very thin, green stems of shrubs or trees, as long as they are extremely flexible. First I twisted the vines into a circle that was about the same size as the diameter of the bowl. I held the vines in place with a small piece of wire.
Next I wound the vines over that circle, attaching them on the other side, and then wrapped them back again. Basically, you’re forming an open ball, but don’t worry about making it regular. The rustic tangle is part of the charm.
This detail shows how at various junctures I attached a small piece of green wire to hold the vines in place.
Once the ball is secured with the wires and stays together you place it over the growing narcissus bulbs.
The bulbs grow up through the vines…guide them as necessary.
Here is how the arrangement looked when the narcissus stems were at their longest and most floppy. Still supported, and I’m still loving the contrast between the polished silver and the slightly wild, natural elements.