potting soil, but will do just as well
in plain water. The base of the
bulb needs to be kept submerged.
To bring spring into your house a few months early, buy bulbs from a garden center or Web site. Paperwhites, such as the ones right, belong to the daffodil family and can be forced to flower indoors any time of year. Kids especially enjoy watching the roots snake down into the container, so pick a clear glass or plastic vessel in which to "plant" your bulbs. The bulbs don't even need soil: You can force the paperwhites in water alone; just add enough to cover the lower portion of the bulbs without submersing them. Paperwhites can also grow in a variety of creative mediums that provide root support. Settle the bulbs in building blocks, marbles, rocks, beads, plastic figurines (such as army men), buttons, colored glass, or anything nonmetal. Place each bulb so that half to three-quarters of it shows above the surface of the medium. Set the bulbs in a warm, sunny spot, water regularly, and they will flower in a month or so. For longer-lasting blooms, move the bulbs to a cool spot out of direct sunlight once flowers appear. It might be tempting to try to coax the bulbs into bloom again next season, but they'll most likely refuse. Just like the breath of spring herself, the beauty of forced bulbs is fleeting and lasts only one season.
Give these five paperwhite varieties a try. All are readily available at larger garden centers or in bulb catalogs. 'Galilee' -- all-white blooms with pleasant fragrance
'Erlicheer' -- clumps of white flowers with yellow centers
'Ziva' -- big, white flowers with spicy aroma
'Yael' -- yellow cups surrounded by snowy white petals
'Grand Soleil d'Or' -- multiflower stems with light yellow blooms