The Q&A Archives: Forcing Narcissus Tazetta Bulbs

Question: I have read several articles on forcing Narcissus bulbs and all seem to have conflicting information. I have some Narcissus tazetta bulbs and would like information on forcing them, i.e., if they need to be placed in a cold area first, what type of medium to pot them in, and approximate length of time from potting to bloom.

Answer: The Narcissus tazetta types or non hardy "paperwhites" commonly sold for forcing do not need chilling. They can be planted in almost any medium as long as it is well drained, meaning not soggy. The easiest method is to set or "plant" them in a watertight container or pan filled with gravel or pebbles. Place them so that the top half to one third of the bulb (pointy end up) is exposed. Nestle a number of them close together so they make a nice display when they bloom. You may use a decorative container to hide the utilitarian pot, you may also hide the gravel with moss or some other material of choice. Fill the pan with water so that the water level is just beneath but not touching the bottom of the bulbs; refill as needed while the bulbs will send roots down into the gravel and water. Set the pot in a sunny yet cool spot and in about four to six weeks they should bloom. After they bloom, discard them since forced bulbs rarely force well again.

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