How to Coax Paperwhite Bulbs to Bloom Indoors
that are adapted to cold winter climates, such as tulips, need to experience
cold temperatures before they bloom. (Many gardeners simulate winter
by "chilling" bulbs for two or more months before bringing
them indoors to bloom.) But bulbs that hail from warmer climates can "come
to life" more easily. Paperwhites are the easiest to grow in the
classroom. Try coaxing some to bloom while waiting for your tulips
to get through winter.
can find paperwhites at nurseries and stores with garden centers. They
typically cost from 50 cents to 1 dollar each. It never hurts to ask
for a donation for an educational project!
For Forcing Paperwhites
dish or bowl (without holes) that's at least 2 1/2 inches deep. (Plastic
containers work well; avoid unglazed clay pots because the water will
seep through.) Add
pebbles or marbles to within 1 inch of the rim.
- Add water
to just below the top of the pebbles.
- Set the
bulbs on top, pointed end up; add enough pebbles to cover a third
of each bulb.
that water level and leave the bulbs in a cool location with little
or no light for a week or two.
- Tug gently
on the plants from time to time to test for root development. Once
they feel rooted, move them to a well-lit spot out of direct sunlight.
- The bulbs
should flower in 3 to 5 weeks.
students to use their bulb journals to document changes in their
indoor bulbs. They should also graph the plants' growth rates.
the class to brainstorm all the possible variables that might affect
a paperwhite's rate of growth (e.g., sun exposure, amount of water).
Have students think through how they might design an experiment to
test each variable on the list