Time for Paperwhites!

paperwhite
Oh, my goodness! Only 21 days until Christmas! Christians around the globe are gathering their inner resources, making plans for the holidays. Some are out the gate! (I received my first Christmas card yesterday from Wisconsin!) One of the treasured practices of this special time of year is to tuck paperwhite bulbs into a simple medium and add a bit of water. And voila! One has a lovely way of marking the days until our special holiday is upon us. By planting today, you will most likely enjoy their fragrant blossoms gracing your lovely breakfast table on Christmas morning. Get a move on! Here’s what you do!

The simplest things are needed. A clear pot. Some marbles. Bulbs. Mine this year are “Paperwhite Ziva”.

Place a layer of marbles at the bottom of the container. Some folks like to use abundant marbles (or stones or colored glass), but I use fewer, primarily because paperwhites do get tall, and I offer them a bit of support by using fewer marbles and thus a glass container that will help hold them up as they grow. Simply place the bulbs, pointy side up into the marble medium, and add enough water to cover the very bottom of the bulbs. If you are so inclined, there is a “trick of the trade” euphemistically called “pickling the paperwhites” that involves topping off with alcohol, not water, which will stunt the growth of the plant. But I just let them be.

Don’t they just emanate life and possibility? I think so!

And here’s the sweet result!


Check daily to see that the bottoms of the bulbs are covered with water. The water will evaporate in proportion to how hot you keep your home in winter. Roots will emerge and seep into the marbles (or whatever medium you have chosen), the greens will sprout upward, buds will appear and open, right around Christmas time! Nothing can match the sweet fragrance of paperwhites that will emanate from your simple creation. It is a lovely gift to the family. I think this is a special tradition that you might well share with your children or grandchildren, marking the days before Christmas by watching the paperwhites emerging–a new Advent practice to perhaps include along with the conventional chocolate calendar! Enjoy, my dearest readers. Let the paperwhites remind you of the essence of the holiday. Let them be a place where you can stop and smell the paperwhites. A place to pace yourself. To breathe in beauty, to release the pace of the day.

Love and early holiday blessings,
Kathryn xoxoxo

Footnote: Here are my paperwhite bulbs on December 13th:

Book News: Plant Whatever Brings You Joy was blessed with a review in Examiner.com written by minister Allyson Szabo. She tells me she will be contemplating how she might use some of the lessons in the book in upcoming sermons. I am humbled and touched and delighted!

If you would like to order gift copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, here’s a reminder that priority shipping is FREE in the US and we offer free giftwrapping! :) Simply visit Estrella Catarina and place your secure order. Thank you!

12 Responses to “Time for Paperwhites!”

  1. Lovely! What a wonderful tradition, and beautiful accompaniment to the holidays! So simple, too. Thanks, mom :-)

    Love,
    Antonia
    xoxo

  2. Hi, Antonia! Yes, so easy! All you really have to do is remember to do it! :) Love, Mom xoxo

  3. I have loved paperwhites for a long time..my only hint..do not overdo it. I have been known to plant so many the fragrance was overpowering!
    Merry Christmas, Alice

  4. This is a wonderful project for kids, who can watch them grow, and kids of all ages! This is also a wonderful gift to give…That gives me a wonderful idea. Thank you. I have done this before, and it is very special…your advice on not having the bulbs too high is a good one, to use the bowl in assisting in keeping them upright. I will remember that.
    I am having a fragrance memory!
    :) What a joyous thing!

  5. Hi, Alice! Welcome! Yes, I can imagine. Makes me think of certain lilies, that are best used sparingly. :) Glad you are a fan! Kathryn xoxo

  6. Good morning, Philip! It truly is a marvelous thing to introduce to children. I wish it were a national tradition, begun at Advent. And, yes, I’ve seen folks planting paperwhites in tall, clear vases so they truly do benefit from the containers to stand tall. Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Love Paperwhites but Sue can’t handle the smell so we use “scentless” varieties of spring bulbs to force. If they are hardy, I then plant them out and while I may not get flowers the next year, I will thereafter. We have thousands of daffodils in the yard now more than 30 years after we started this practice.. You remind me that I still have 40 tulip bulbs in the garage to plant into red milk crates. Sue gets an ongoing supply from work, they would just throw them out, so we use them for everything. They make great planters, bright red, cheerful & with built-in handles to move them around. I’m planting red & white tulips in several so I can move them around in the front yard this spring for best effect. Hopefully, I can “squirrel proof” the crates by stacking another one on top until they start to grow. Wonder if it would work for sunflowers as well which I’ve given up on…enjoy the season, love, cousin Julie

  8. Hi, Julie, Someone on Twitter just complained about the scent. I bet it varies from hybrid to hybrid, like roses. Makes sense! I love your tulip plans! How inspiring! Maybe you should try the sunflowers inside until they get bigger? Squirrels here never touch my sunflowers. (Too many nut trees to distract them??) Love, Kathryn xoxox

  9. Hi Kathryn! Yes, it’s bulb forcing and paperwhite time again. Happy Holidays to you. I like your idea about the tall glass container to support your bulbs. That’s a great one. For those who can take ‘Ziva’s’ abundant scent, I wrote about sweeter scented paperwhites on my blog too. You and I think alike my friend.~~Dee

  10. Hi, Dee, Sending folks over to your blog for more info about paperwhites and their various scents! Apparently Ziva is not our highest option! Thanks for the info, my dear! :) http://reddirtramblings.com/flowers/not-all-paperwhites-stink
    Kathryn xoxo

  11. Oh please do another post when they bloom. I’d like to see them in all their glory. :0)

  12. Good morning, Randy, and welcome! I will post a pic at foot of this post! Promise! Kathryn xoxo

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