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Blooming Plants
  Blooming Plant of the Month

Botanical name
Narcissus tazetta (nar-SIS-us ta-ZEET-ta)
Common name
Paperwhite Narcissi are bulb plants with multiflowered clusters of small white blossoms with small cups, or crowns.
Shelf life
Potted Narcissi can be stored in floral coolers at 32 F to 33 F for 10 days or 36 F to 38 F for eight days. For optimum results, store these plants at 41 F for no more than three days. The plants will last for two to three weeks, depending on interior environment.

Narcissi can be forced indoors for bloom as early as late November. Potted Narcissi are generally available from November to April with peak supplies in January through March.

In-store and consumer care
Narcissi prefer bright light, or the stems will become weak, yellowed and elongated. Keep interior light levels at 50 to 100 foot-candles or higher. The plants can be kept in or near windows where the light is indirect.
Check the pots frequently, and keep the soil moist at all times.
Provide a cool location away from direct sunshine or heat sources. Cooler temperatures of 50 F to 65 F days and 45 F to 55 F nights are best for maximum longevity.
Medium humidity is best.
None is needed because all of the food that Narcissi need is stored in the bulb.
Potted bulbs usually are too spent to save and rebloom, but it is worth a try.

The most common disease affecting potted bulbs is Botrytis, which can be avoided with proper watering. Avoid standing water.
Narcissus stems and foliage often become floppy as they mature. Use plant stakes and string to support the plants and keep them upright.
Narcissi are usually very fragrant. If present in quantity in a closed room, headaches and even nausea may occur.

Fun facts
Narcissus is a Greek name said to be derived from “narke” for “numbness” or “torpor,” in reference to narcotic properties. The name also may be in reference to the Greek youth whose admiration for his own beauty caused the gods to turn him into a flower nodding at water’s edge to forever see only his own reflection.
Narcissi belong to the Amaryllidaceae family. Relatives include Agapanthus, Alstroemeria, Clivia and Nerine.
Narcissi originated in Spain and Portugal. They became commercially important in the late 1800s, but they have been cultivated for centuries.

Quality checklist
Choose and sell Narcissi when the buds are still green or just beginning to show a tinge of color. The tighter the flower buds, the longer the plants will last. Check the blossoms for any signs of rot, bruising or wilt.
Check the foliage for any signs of rot, bruising or breakage.
Aphids can be controlled by washing them off the plants.

Some information provided by:
Carol and Don Garibaldi, Ańo Nuevo Flower Growers Inc., Half Moon Bay, Calif.
San Francisco Wholesale Flower Mart,
Chain of Life Network®,
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual

You can reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Images courtesy of John Henry Company, Lansing, Mich.

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