Name that bulb (or, how I got the shot after all)

2 06 2008

Apparently I wasn’t quite as absentminded and unprepared as I thought I was (see previous post on forgetting to put a CF card in my D300)! A few days ago, I shot a handful of photos in the front and backyard gardens, came into the house, took the card out so I could take it downstairs to “process,” and got sidetracked by the cat. She climbed onto the suitcase to nap and I grabbed my camera and began to shoot. I didn’t see the images in playback and realized there was no card in it. And I didn’t remember taking it out (it was a long day; cut me some slack!). Late this afternoon, I saw a CF card on the edge of the coffee table in the library and wondered what was on it. I popped it into the camera…and voila!—there were the images I had shot the previous day.

This image is of a Smith & Hawken forced bulb kit I bought at Target’s after-Christmas sale in early January. I think it was discounted 75% down to $5.00. I bought it primarily for the cool faux moss pot. I planted the bulbs while in Texas visiting my family and the pot traveled back to Virginia the end of January, not growing even a smidge. They sat in our kitchen, basking in sunlight on a bench. Still no growth. Several weeks past the time spring bulbs normally bloom, they were relegated to the front porch and watered regularly (including getting completely soaked during several rainstorms…had to turn it on its side to drain since it was meant for indoors and thus had no drainage holes in it).

About two weeks ago, the shoots finally had a growth spurt, and late last week, blooms began appearing. I propped it up on the porch railing (rather precariously), nestling it on the wild-gone-rampant vine that covers the railing each year (another vine I planted about five years ago. It flowers in mid-summer with a profusion of puffy baby’s breath-like clusters of white flowers…the name escapes me, but I swear the vine grows several feet each day (not an exaggeration).

I thought the bulbs in the planter were going to be daffodils but now that they’re blooming, I think they might be Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta). I’ve forced paperwhites several times and the flowers are usually larger than these, though. Plus, the scent of these flowers is not as strong as I remember paperwhites being! I would love a confirmation on the plant’s identity, nonethless. Any takers?

Plant identification update: I got a good whiff of the flowers this afternoon and they are definitely Paperwhites—the scent is so much stronger when they’re forced indoors (some people like the scent, some don’t).

FORCING TIPS: If you don’t mind the strong scent of Paperwhites, and would like to try growing them this winter, here’s a good site to visit:

You can even buy them on this site:

If you use alcohol in the water, you’ll keep Paperwhites from becoming too leggy. Read about this tip here:

BEWARE: Do keep in mind that Paperwhites are toxic to cats, so if you have cats, either don’t grow them or keep them out of reach (the Paperwhites, not the cats!). I have grown them a few times (out of reach because the location was best for sunlight) and the cats couldn’t reach it. I wouldn’t take any chances, though, if you have cats. After learning about the toxicity, I haven’t grown them indoors. Other houseplants that are the most toxic to cats include sago palm, lilies, tulips, daffodils, azaleas, oleander and cyclamen. For 17 common poisonous plants, visit this site:

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