Thursday, March 6, 2014

Paperwhites For Weddings

Paperwhite narcissus bulbs usually come to mind at Christmas time and during the early months of winter.
They are bulbs that are easy to force inside the home, with fragrant white blooms that bring a bit of springtime cheer to the winter months.
But with a little careful planning they can also be used for winter and early springtime weddings. Are you interested in trying them? Here's a quick primer then:
The best time to buy paperwhites is in the fall. You can keep them chilled in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator until about five to six weeks before you plan to use them.
The bulbs below arrived in October and were placed in the frig until I was ready to use them in late January.
The picture above shows the freshly planted bulbs, and the picture below shows them about 2 1/2 weeks later. To keep the foliage from becoming floppy, I actually place the containers in a protected area outside on days when temps are in the 40's and 50's and bring them in when temperatures drop below 30 degrees.Paperwhites prefer the cooler temperatures. I have had potted paperwhites handle upper 20's when I forgot to bring them in, but I don't think they could go below 25 degrees!
 Below shows the containers four weeks after planting.
And the final picture shows one of the containers 4 1/2 weeks after planting. These containers were potted up to use for two consecutive Sundays at our church. Note: to keep the flowers looking fresh for both Sundays, I placed the containers in a cooler between the two Sundays.
Growing paperwhites for a particular date definitely takes some planning... So if you decide that it's worth it, (like me), what do you need to do to have paperwhites for your wedding?  
First buy more than enough paperwhites to fill your chosen container TWICE. The containers above held nine bulbs each. My FIRST choice for paperwhite bulbs is John Scheeper. Ideally you should get  your order in by August or September- these bulbs are known to sell out by October.
For containers with no drainage holes like the one above, you can line with a heavy duty garbage bag, add pebbles to cover the bottom one inch (this helps keep the roots from becoming waterlogged), then add MOIST potting soil. You want to make sure that you DON'T over-water since there is no way for the water to drain out. Nestle the bulbs into the soil with the neck sticking up, then add more pebbles or small stones to keep the bulbs in place. And LIGHTLY water each week.
BUT to be on the safe side (no waterlogged plants), I strongly suggest growing your bulbs in a separate container with drainage holes like a large plastic pot. Choose one that will fit inside of a more decorative container that fits the style of your wedding (look at images on Pinterest or Google for ideas). Make sure that it sets within the more decorative container with ease so that you won't have trouble placing it inside later.
Start the first batch of paperwhites at five-six weeks before your wedding date, and the second batch at four-five weeks before your event. Once the green tips start growing keep the bulbs in a cool room in front of a sunny window,  periodically turning the container. About half a week before your wedding, choose the best showing potted bulbs, water them well and let the pots drain. Place them in you decorative containers and enjoy! Just imagine how great they would look for your wedding on a place card or gift table, or maybe to decorate the your ceremony venue. There are so many possibilities for using them!

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