Issue: October 4, 2003

Reblooming paperwhite narcissus

Question:

If I plant paperwhites indoors in a bowl of marbles and water, will they re-bloom this winter if I cut the stalks of the flowers produced this fall? How do I store and what do I do to the bulbs once blooming is done so that I can use them next year?

Answer:

It is unlikely for the paperwhite narcissus to re-bloom in the winter following blooming in the fall. In fact, when paperwhites are forced to bloom in marbles and water, they are often discarded afterwards. The reason for this is that the food stored in the bulbs is depleted by blooming, and the marbles and water cannot provide the nutrients that they normally take from the soil. Use of diluted fertilizer in the water may help, but indoor light conditions are usually a limiting factor. The second consideration is that the leaves must grow, and after they go dormant a new flower bud must form. This is unlikely in the time frame you are considering and under the "marbles and water" growing conditions.

I would suggest that you pot the paperwhites in potting soil or plant them outdoors after fall flowering. They should produce leaves next spring and then replenish the stored food in the bulbs. They can then be left in the ground (they are hardy in most of New Mexico), or they may be dug and forced to bloom again indoors. It is much easier to buy new bulbs for forcing, and allow the old bulbs to establish themselves in the garden for a few years. (One year in soil may or may not provide sufficient replenishment for the bulbs.)

Ficus hardiness

Question:

I have a 28-year-old ficus tree on an enclosed screen porch. What are the lowest outdoor temperatures that it can tolerate?

Answer:

It is unlikely for the paperwhite narcissus to re-bloom in the winter following blooming in the fall. In fact, when paperwhites are forced to bloom in marbles and water, they are often discarded afterwards. The reason for this is that the food stored in the bulbs is depleted by blooming, and the marbles and water cannot provide the nutrients that they normally take from the soil. Use of diluted fertilizer in the water may help, but indoor light conditions are usually a limiting factor. The second consideration is that the leaves must grow, and after they go dormant a new flower bud must form. This is unlikely in the time frame you are considering and under the "marbles and water" growing conditions.

A ficus tree can probably withstand 32 degrees or lower for a very short period. However, for night-long periods of time, it is best to keep it above 50 degrees F. An hour or more at freezing temperatures can kill the ficus. Extended periods of time (hours) below 40 degrees and perhaps slightly higher temperatures can result in "chilling injury" (damage to the plant at temperatures above freezing). This is because the ficus is a tropical tree and cannot adapt to low temperatures.

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Send your gardening questions to Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith NMSU Cooperative Extension Service 9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112 Albuquerque, NM 87112

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.

Please join us on Southwest Yard & Garden, a weekly garden program made for gardeners in the Southwest on: KNME-TV Albuquerque at 9:30 p.m. Saturdays, KENW-TV Portales at 10 a.m. Saturdays, and KRWG-TV Las Cruces at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays (repeated at 1 p.m. Thursdays.)