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Sniff before you buy. Paperwhite narcissus is a decorative daffodil some say stinks

Paperwhite narcissus growing in bowls on a window ledge.
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Paperwhite narcissus are a type of daffodil that doesn't need a long chilling period to bloom. They make a beautiful holiday decoration, but not all people love their sweet fragrance.

We love to decorate our home with flowers for the holidays. But if you want to add fragrance, try the paperwhite narcissus. I first have to warn you, not all people love the sweet fragrance of paperwhites. I find them alluring, but my wife says they stink. So, check it out with your housemate before growing a bunch of flowers indoors.

Paperwhite narcissus are a type of daffodil that doesn't need a long chilling period to bloom. Purchased online or from a garden center, simply pot them up and in 3- to 4-weeks, they will be blooming their heads off. Traditional varieties, such as 'Ziva' are white, but there are variations. 'Inbal' is a white flowering type that blooms faster. 'Ariel' is white and grows a little shorter. 'Grand Soleil D'or' is a golden petaled narcissus, but it takes 5- to 6- weeks to bloom.

Once purchased, either place them in a deep glass or ceramic bowl with at least 2 inches of crushed stone on the bottom or pot them with potting soil. If using a decorative bowl, keep enough water in the bottom for the bulbs to grow. Don't let the water level rise above the roots or the bulb will rot. The one downside of the bowl is it's hard to support the sometimes floppy flower stems. That's why I like using potting soil where you can place sticks or supports in the pot to keep everything upright.

Place in a brightly lit, warm room and enjoy the show and fragrance. After flowering simply compost the bulbs since they probably won't flower again for you.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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