We think it’s safe to predict that a little extra cheer over the festive season this year will definitely not go amiss. How to add it? We’re inspired by an idea Monty Don shared recently, which means we can enjoy wonderful scented paperwhite daffodils indoors over the holidays.
Monty is one of our favourite sources of wisdom and inspiration in all things gardening, so when he suggested that now is the moment to plant paperwhite daffodils for a fabulous Christmas display, we sat up and listened. Blooms and perfume? Yes, please.
Just scroll down for Monty’s top tips, and check out our more decorative garden ideas feature for more inspiration.
How to grow paperwhite daffodils for Christmas: Monty Don’s top tips
1. When to get planting? Right now, people. It’s going to take about six weeks for the shoots of your paperwhite daffodils to appear, then a few weeks longer for them to start flowering, Monty advised on BBC Gardeners’ World (opens in new tab).
2. Which paperwhite daffodils? Monty’s preference is ‘Ziva’ – Narcissus papyraceus ‘Ziva’ to name them fully – because they are ‘full of flower’, he says. You can plant these multi-headed daffs outside if your garden is sheltered, but they are a favourite for forcing: in other words, growing early indoors.
3. To plant them, Monty takes a deep pot and adds compost to the base. Then he puts in the bulbs and covers them with at least 5cm more compost. He then waters them.
The bulbs can be close together for indoor displays, and, if you’re a newbie to bulb planting, be aware that it’s pointy side up when you’re putting them into the pot.
We suggest using bulb fibre for your indoor pots as it’s made for the job. It has a free draining structure to prevent water logging and allows space for roots to grow. A good multi-purpose compost is a great alternative.
4. The pot should then be put aside somewhere protected, Monty says. The bulbs need to be somewhere cool, dark and airy for now so a shed or possibly a garage would be ideal.
5. You’ll need to be patient, waiting for the shoots to appear. Once they do, Monty says, you can bring your paperwhite daffodils indoors to a sunny, warm windowsill and they’ll flower a few weeks after. Bear in mind that you may need to support the daffs as they grow because they can get tall.
And the results of your efforts? Fantastic flowers and great scent.
6. After they’ve bloomed, you can leave your paperwhites somewhere frost-free to die down, then plant the bulbs outdoors if you have a sunny and sheltered spot.