How to: Look after winter bulbs

Forced indoor bulbs planted into pots, such as scented Paperwhite narcissi, want to be started off coolly initially, away from direct sunlight. Check them regularly and water occasionally if the soil feels dry and beware of overwatering bulbs growing in pots without any drainage holes. (Proprietary bulb fibre is the best medium for undrained containers.)

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When you see shoots in active growth, move the container to a bright, sunny window. Provide cane and wire or twine support as the stems get tall and the flowers open, to prevent flopping. Each display takes some 4 to 6 weeks from scratch.

By planting up new pots of bulbs every week or two over a period of several weeks, you will have a succession of fragrant, uplifting blooms through the winter. Paperwhites are not hardy enough to be grown outdoors in future years, so the bulbs are usually discarded, having spent themselves out in the glory of their winter display.