Paperwhite narcissus grown indoors grew long, lanky stems. I carefully removed the
stones they were growing in and planted them in the ground yesterday. The experts say
to toss forced bulbs. I always replant and they usually bloom again in a year or two.
Some of my paperwhites -- I bought too many but they were a good price -- grown indoors did not get enough light from a bright east window to have the shorter stems I'd hoped. Next year I'll have only one bowl full. In fact, I might pot them in soil. Paperwhites require no chill. Mid to late November they go into a bowl of stones and water in very bright light to bloom by Christmas. In a cool room, they'll last a couple of weeks or more.
By Christmas there are beautiful white blooms. Some people do not like the fragrance. I must have gotten some exceptional bulbs because mine smelled good but were not overpowering. I put aquarium charcoal in the water to keep the water from souring. Perhaps that helps with the musky scent as well.
Amaryllis goes into pots of soil mid-November as well. I potted three at the same time. They bloomed in sequence, all different. My choice for next year is Appleblossom, the only one that bloomed true to name of the bulbs I bought. I might order off to a reputable vendor instead of buying budget bulbs at a big box store. Maybe I'll take another chance. They did bloom well; just weren't the expected color on the box. I tried Amaryllis in stones and water last year. I do not recommend this method.
One of the Amaryllis has a big fat seed pod. One pod yields hundreds of papery seeds that takes some years to produce a blooming size bulb.
At right, the faded bloom of Appleblossom. The first stem did not form seeds pods because I cut off the fading blooms to let the second one develop well.
Amaryllis here will survive winter cold and bloom in the garden in spring. My bulbs go in the ground, usually skip a year and bloom again.
I failed to put Hyacinth bulbs in to chill in a timely fashion, so my Hyacinths will be Winter blossoms. Perhaps some will hold back to bloom at Valentine's day. Some are in water and stones like paperwhites, some are potted in soil. Next year I'll put the bulbs in chill mid-September and pot them up about December 1 in hopes of Christmas bloom.
These Hyacinths are not many days from blooming.
Here's my tentative list of winter bulbs for 2012:
1. Paperwhites for sentimental tradition, 6 or 8 bulbs in the brightest light until they bloom in hopes of non-flopping stems, potted at Thanksgiving or a little before.
2. At least 3 Amaryllis, including Appleblossom, potted when I find them in November.
3. All the Hyacinths I can afford.
4. Other bulbs: maybe some Muscari. Iris reticulata. Freesias.
5. Tulips, I get kind of crazy when I consider tulips. They require chill, long periods of chill. I have two pots of Queen of Night of which one has shown foliage. I'd like pots of white in 2012, I think.
Tulips in the Deep South are a difficult project. Should I just buy
nursery-grown tulips when they come to Walmart in the spring?
Instructions for forcing bulbs are on numerous web sites like North Carolina State and Cornell Extension sites, bulb vendors and associations, and private blogs. Your bulb experiences will vary depending on where you grow, the provenance of your bulbs and other factors.
Secrets of a Seedscatterer