Paperwhite bulbs are some of the easiest and most universally enjoyed gifts. These flowers are a snap to grow and are a great first gardening project for anyone, from third graders through octogenarians. Just find a colorful bowl or pot that provides at least 3.5 inches of root room and follow the directions provided here (see bottom of page). From a logistics standpoint, these are gifts that are small enough to be transported readily, whether carried or shipped, and will fit on the windowsills of most houses and apartments.
And because they are alive, paperwhites offer the promise of spring in the dead of winter, complete with fresh green growth, plump buds and fragrant multi-flower blooms. Zivas are the absolute fastest to flower, but there are several other choices for varying color and scent.
How you choose to present your paperwhite bulbs is up to you. Happily, the options for creativity are endless. Here are a few examples we pulled together with simple supplies from a card shop around the corner.
Card shops carry sturdy handled gift bags in oodles of sizes and designs. The sky's the limit here. Add contrasting tissue paper with the ends spiking out of the top of the bag. Voila! - instant festivities.
These lightweight, see through bags lend themselves beautifully to flower bulb gift packaging. Just add a sheet or two of brightly colored tissue and cinch the bag at the neck with curly, grosgrain or fabric ribbon or even sparkly, wired trim.
For coworkers who start each morning with an invigorating jolt of Columbian or Earl Gray, a new mug will be an appreciated gift. (Finally, they can now toss that ugly chipped, stained cup they've been using forever.) Tuck three or four paperwhite bulbs inside, embellish the handle with ribbons and add a set of growing instructions in the bottom of the mug. Soon your office buddies will have snappy new ways to savor their morning coffee or tea and fragrant blooms on the corners of their desks.
Other options include:
Antique or unusual bowls
Whether Limoge, McCoy or just a pretty treasure from an estate sale, bowls of glass, china, stoneware and even non-rusting metal are all excellent choices. And because these are often one of a kind finds, your gifts will be, too.
Use your imagination and you'll discover that large gravy boats, small ice buckets, baskets with waterproof liners and wide mouth vases all present opportunities to create personalized gifts. Look in the back of your kitchen cabinets and on the shelves in the basement - you may find something fun that's the right size and shape. Give that celadon green Asian bowl, the one that doesn't match anything in your home, to your friend who just returned from a trip to China.
Long, slender paper or fabric wine bags will happily hold a generous gift of 10-15 paperwhite bulbs. Image the surprise when your recipient realizes that there's fragrant flowers-to-be inside, rather than another bottle of Merlot.
A couple of insider's tips:
If you ship live bulbs consider temperature; yours, the recipient's and those in the areas your bulbs must travel through. Most shippers'; warehouses aren't heated and these tender bulbs can freeze. For safety sake, don't ship when temperatures are below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Refrain from storing bulbs in the refrigerator. The gases that fruits and some vegetable emit during ripening will kill the immature flowers sleeping inside your bulbs. Paperwhites can be kept at room temperature for a number of weeks, typically 4 to 8 depending on temperature (cool is better).
Who says holiday gifts have to be highly commercial, impersonal or expensive? Just use your imagination to easily create a custom gift.
Click here for freepaperwhite planting instructions.