Paperwhite bulbs after bloom

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I grew paper whites for the first time last year for Christmas. But I planted them way too soon and they were already done blooming before Christmas.

But I still have them sitting out on my counter. Just all lengthy green leaves with dead flowers.

It’s not pretty. I’m not showing you a picture.

So I set out to find… so what do I do with the bulbs? Ideally I’d like them to grow again next Winter.

It took a while to find some information. Most places recommend just tossing them and buying new ones. But I have some beautiful healthy bulbs so I want to try to save them for next year.

Well, first, you don’t cut the leaves. You need to let the leaves die back naturally on their own. While the flowers are done blooming, the leaves provide nutrients to the bulb for next year. I continue to water the bulbs every 2-3 days.

If you live in Zone 8 or higher, you can put the bulbs outside. Otherwise just keep them in the window.

After the last frost, you can transplant them into the garden outside. But apparently they may not bloom again for several years. (!!)

But then I found this:

“Unlike many bulbs, paperwhites need no chilling to force blooms and are only hardy in USDA zone 10. This means that in California you can plant the bulb outdoors and you may get a bloom the next year if you fed it and let its foliage persist. More likely, however, you will not get a bloom for two or three years. In other regions, you will probably not have any success with a rebloom and the bulbs should be composted. It is quite common to grow paperwhites in a glass container with marbles or gravel at the bottom. The bulb is suspended on this medium and water provides the remainder of the growing situation. However, when bulbs are grown this way, they cannot gather and store any additional nutrients from their roots. This makes them energy deficient and there is no way you can get another bloom. In a nutshell, getting paperwhites to rebloom is not probable. The cost of the bulbs is minimal, so the best idea for flowering is to purchase another set of bulbs. Remember, paperwhite bulb reblooming in zone 10 may be possible, but even this ideal condition is not a sure-fire prospect. However, it never hurts to try and the worst that can happen is the bulb rots and provides organic material for your garden.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Can Paperwhite Flowers Rebloom: Tips On Getting Paperwhites To Rebloom”

So, to answer my question, I should just throw them away.


In the Garden

Q: I tried forcing paperwhite narcissus in my home, but just as they began to bloom, they flopped over. How can I prevent this?

A: Paperwhites are one of the easiest of all spring-blooming bulbs to force in the house. All you need is a watertight container and some decorative stones or marbles. Place the bulbs on the top of the decorative material, pointy side up, and use the same material to cover all but the top third of the bulbs. Fill the container with water, keeping it filled to the base of the bulbs, and before long you’ll be rewarded with deliciously fragrant snow-white flowers. As you found out, however, a common problem with paperwhites is that they grow too fast in our warm homes. This results in stems that are too tall and thin to support the weight of the flowers, causing them to fall over. Fortunately there’s a simple trick that can prevent this from happening. When the stems reach 5 inches, add vodka to the water. Much as you might expect this treatment to make the plants tipsy, it instead burns the roots, which slows growth and prevents the stems from toppling. The stems will only grow to about half of their normal height, but the flowers will be just as large and fragrant as ever. Don’t overdo the booze; the recipe calls for 1 part vodka to about 7 parts water. If you exceed the recommended dose, your inebriated paperwhites might not only embarrass you in front of visitors, but they probably won’t ever bloom.

Q. I have a fairly large Christmas cactus. Every year the buds form but never open. They just fall off. What’s going on?

A. Did you move your Christmas cactus while it was in bud? These plants are famous for dropping their buds if they’re moved into different conditions right before the flowers open. You can move your Christmas cactus into a different room for display purposes, but always wait to do it until it’s in full bloom. The blossoms rarely fall off once they’ve opened. If you didn’t move it, then the bud drop could have been caused by overwatering. These forest cactuses prefer to be kept cool and dry before they bloom. Too much water combined with warm conditions can lead to bud drop. Once it sets buds, water your Christmas cactus only if you notice it begin to wilt. Once it blooms, resume watering whenever the soil surface feels dry. Your plant is probably as frustrated by this situation as you are, so follow these instructions, and next time it sets buds, your Christmas cactus will put on such a great floral display you won’t believe it’s the same plant!

Ciscoe Morris: [email protected] “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

How to grow Paperwhites

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How to Grow Paperwhites Video

Paperwhites require little more than to be potted and watered to produce clusters of fragrant blooms.

  • When the bulbs arrive, open the bags immediately to allow air to reach the bulbs. You can either pot the bulbs right away or keep them to grow at a later time. If storing the bulbs, keep them at room temperature in a dark place for up to 4-6 weeks.
  • If you receive one of our 24-bulb collections, consider potting 6-12 bulbs at 2- to 4-week intervals for a staggered display. Bulbs generally bloom 4-6 weeks after potting.

How to Grow Paperwhites

Paperwhite Narcissus will grow happily and bloom with nothing more than water and stones or pebbles.

Growing Paperwhites in water:

  • To “plant” your bulbs in any our our soilless kits, begin by carefully placing a layer of stones or pebbles to a depth of about 2″ in a small vase or about 4″ in a larger vase.
  • Next place a layer of Paperwhite bulbs close to each other, roots facing down. Put a few stones or pebbles around and between the bulbs to anchor them in the vase. Leave the tops of the bulbs exposed.
  • Finally, add water until the level reaches just below the base of the bulbs, but no higher (if the bases of the bulbs sit in water, they will rot).
  • Follow the instructions for “Rooting and care” below.

Growing Paperwhites in soil:

  • To pot the bulbs from one our kits with potting mix, begin by placing the potting mix in a plastic tub. Slowly add water and stir until the mix is moist but not soggy. Add moistened mix to the accompanying container until it is about 3/4 full.
  • Set the bulbs, pointed end up, on top of the mix. Space the bulbs very closely; they should almost touch. Then add more mix, covering the bulbs up to their necks and leaving the tips exposed. Water thoroughly.
  • Follow the instructions for “Rooting and care” below.

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Rooting and care

  • Set your container or vase in a cool (50-60°F is ideal) place away from direct sunlight. Check the bulbs frequently and water thoroughly when the potting mix is dry 1″ below the surface (but not more than once a week until the bulbs begin active growth), or when the water level is more than 1″ below the stones or glass in your vase.
  • If your bulbs are in a bowl (a pot without a drainage hole), water with extra care: Bulbs sitting in soggy potting mix soon rot.
  • Once a week, tug gently on the bulbs to see if they have begun to product roots. When your tug meets with firm resistance (usually about 3 weeks after potting), move the container to a sunny window.
  • Keep a close eye on watering. Bulbs in active growth can dry out in just a day or two.
  • When Paperwhites are forced to bloom indoors, they have a tendency to topple when in flower. Hold them upright with the bulb supports supplied with our bulb kits or with bamboo stakes and twine (available at garden centers). If you use our supports, set them in place when the bulb shoots are 8-10″ tall by inserting the legs at regular intervals along the inside edge of the container. As the leaves and stems grow, a few will find their way outside the ring. Gently bend them and push them back inside.
  • After Paperwhites finish blooming, we recommend that you throw the bulbs out or toss them on the compost pile. They won’t bloom again indoors.

Can Paperwhite Flowers Rebloom: Tips On Getting Paperwhites To Rebloom

Paperwhites are a form of Narcissus, closely related to daffodils. The plants are common winter gift bulbs which do not need chilling and are available year around. Getting paperwhites to rebloom after the first flowering is a tricky proposition. Some thoughts on how to get paperwhites to flower again follows.

Can Paperwhite Flowers Rebloom?

Paperwhites are often found in homes, blooming with starry white flowers that help dispel the cobwebs of winter. They grow quickly in either soil or on a bed of water submerged gravel. Once the bulbs have flowered, it can be difficult to get another bloom in the same season. Sometimes if you plant them outside in USDA zone 10, you may get another bloom the next year but usually paperwhite bulb reblooming will take up to three years.

Bulbs are plant storage structures that hold the embryo and the carbohydrates necessary to start the plant. If this is the case, can paperwhite flowers rebloom from a spent bulb? Once the bulb

has flowered, it has pretty much used up all its stored energy.

In order to make more energy, the greens or leaves need to be allowed to grow and collect solar energy, which is then converted into plant sugar and stored in the bulb. If the foliage is allowed to grow until it turns yellow and dies back, the bulb may have stored enough energy for reblooming. You can help this process along by giving the plant some bloom food when it is actively growing.

How to Get Paperwhites to Flower Again

Unlike many bulbs, paperwhites need no chilling to force blooms and are only hardy in USDA zone 10. This means that in California you can plant the bulb outdoors and you may get a bloom the next year if you fed it and let its foliage persist. More likely, however, you will not get a bloom for two or three years.

In other regions, you will probably not have any success with a rebloom and the bulbs should be composted.

It is quite common to grow paperwhites in a glass container with marbles or gravel at the bottom. The bulb is suspended on this medium and water provides the remainder of the growing situation. However, when bulbs are grown this way, they cannot gather and store any additional nutrients from their roots. This makes them energy deficient and there is no way you can get another bloom.

In a nutshell, getting paperwhites to rebloom is not probable. The cost of the bulbs is minimal, so the best idea for flowering is to purchase another set of bulbs. Remember, paperwhite bulb reblooming in zone 10 may be possible, but even this ideal condition is not a sure-fire prospect. However, it never hurts to try and the worst that can happen is the bulb rots and provides organic material for your garden.

How to Reuse Paperwhite Bulbs

Paperwhites (Paperwhite narcissus) are members of the daffodil family but are unlike other daffodils. Their bulbs do not require cold weather during the winter months in order to grow and bloom. Paperwhites therefore are more common in warmer climates than in cooler climates. They are also one of the most popular bulbs that are “forced” indoors in containers to grow and bloom during the winter months. When paperwhite bulbs are forced, they cannot be reused or regrown; however, when planted in soil and allowed to grow and bloom on their timing, you can reuse or regrow paperwhites every year.

Plan on planting your paperwhites outdoors in October or November in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11. In colder zones, wait until spring after the last frost to plant them; in the meantime, store them indoors in slightly moist potting soil 2 to 3 inches deep.

Plant your paperwhites so the bases of the bulbs are about 5 inches beneath the soil. Plant 10 to 15 bulbs per square foot and water them with 1 inch of water.

Cover the site (only in zone 8) with a layer of mulch to keep the bulbs warm during the winter. About 2 to 3 inches of straw, pine needles, lawn clippings or another organic mulch will suffice.

Water the paperwhites beginning in spring with an inch of water each week when rainfall fails to meet this requirement. In the summer (after blooming), rainfall usually provides paperwhite bulbs with enough water.

Cut off the foliage with pruning shears only after it dies or begins to yellow, which will happen in the fall.

Divide your paperwhite bulbs in the fall if your garden became overcrowded or your flowers did not bloom as much as they did in previous years. Dig up the bulbs and separate the bulb offsets with your hands and replant the bulbs (or store for the winter in colder climates).

Reapply mulch in the fall for zone 8. In zones 9 to 11, you can leave bulbs in the ground. Your paperwhite bulbs will bloom again the following spring. However, in zones 7 and colder, dig up your bulbs and store them again indoors in potting soil until spring.

Flowering Paperwhites for Winter Windowsills

Who cares if it’s winter outside? You’ll hardly notice with a windowsill as cheerful as this. Shown here from top left to bottom right are ‘Bethlehem’, ‘Galilee’, Chinese sacred lily (bright yellow cup), ‘Jerusalem’ (pure white flower and the tallest), ‘Cragford’ (orange cup) and ‘Nazareth’ (pale yellow perianth).
Photo/Illustration: Susan Kahn

‘Israel’ (‘Omri’) is, in my opinion, the finest of the new paperwhites. Each 16- to 20-inch-tall stem brings forth 15 to 20 large, creamy yellow flowers with pale yellow centers. ‘Israel’ has a mild, sweet, musky fragrance. It blooms three to five weeks from planting.

‘Nazareth’ (‘Yael’) is a more compact paperwhite, reaching a height of 12 to 14 inches. Each stem is topped by 8 to 10 mildly sweet-scented, creamy white flowers with yellow centers. ‘Nazareth’ blooms about three weeks after planting and sometimes needs to be staked.

‘Jerusalem’ (‘Sheleg’) has the largest flowers of any paperwhite. These white jewels have a texture that seems to sparkle and a mildly sweet fragrance. ‘Jerusalem’ produces two to four very strong stems (16 to 20 inches tall) per bulb, and it blooms three to four weeks from planting.

‘Galilee’ is a vigorous, compact (12- to 14-inch-high) cultivar that blooms three to four weeks after planting. It has 10 to 15 white flowers per stem, and its flowers exude a moderately musky fragrance that I find a bit strong for a small room.

‘Ziva’ is one of the most vigorous paperwhites, blooming two to three weeks from planting. It produces 10 to 15 musk-scented flowers of the purest white atop strong, 16- to 18-inch-tall stems. It has the strongest fragrance of all the paperwhites and is the one found in many garden centers.

‘Bethlehem’ (‘Nony’) has a mild, sweet fragrance. Its flowers, held 8 to 10 inches above the bulbs, are bicolors—creamy white with pale yellow centers. Each ‘Bethlehem’ bulb produces one to four stems having 10 to 15 flowers. They bloom four to five weeks after planting.

‘Cragford’ is a truly multipurpose bulb; it can be forced easily or grown outdoors from USDA Hardiness Zone 5 to Zone 9. Each strong, 12- to 14-inch-tall stem yields several white flowers with orange centers. It has a mild, musky scent and blooms 8 to 10 weeks after planting.

‘Grand Soleil d’Or’ (or ‘Soleil d’Or’) is a cultivar of N. tazetta ssp. aureus, a native of Italy. Ten to 20 bright yellow flowers with orange centers develop on each stem; each bulb generates one to four stems 12 to 14 inches high. ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’ boasts a marvelously sweet fragrance and blooms six to 10 weeks after planting. This cultivar will grow outside from Zone 7 to Zone 9 if it receives at least a half day of full sun.

Chinese sacred lily (Narcissus chinensis) is a bicolor beauty. It is one of my favorites because of its good looks and its delicate fragrance. Three to four weeks after planting, it produces several 14- to 16-inch-tall stems bearing five to 10 white flowers with golden orange centers. Its stems are a bit weak and require staking. ‘Con­stan­tinople’ is a lovely double-flowered form.

Growing Paperwhite: Tips On Planting Paperwhite Bulbs Outdoors

Narcissus paperwhite bulbs are classic holiday gifts that produce indoor blooms to brighten the winter doldrums. Those little bulb kits make growing paperwhites super easy by providing the bulb, soil and a container. All you do is add water and put the container in a warm place in bright light. Planting paperwhite bulbs outside is still a fairly simple process, but you can’t do it when winter temperatures still exist. Find out how to grow paperwhites in the home landscape for spring blooms.

About Narcissus Paperwhite Bulbs

Paperwhites are native to the Mediterranean region. They produce daffodil-like white blooms on slender stems 1 to 2 feet tall. Each stem produces four to eight flowers that are typically an inch wide and snowy white.

The bulbs prefer warm temperatures of at least 70 F. (21 C.) during the day and 60 F (16 C.) at night. The flowers are not hardy in freezing temperatures and are only suitable in USDA zones 8 to 10. You can force them in pots indoors for outdoor displays or plant them

in a prepared bed outside.

Bulbs in kits come to the United States ready to grow and need no chilling period in winter. If you buy bulbs in fall, they will need to be planted outside immediately and they produce flowers in spring.

How to Grow Paperwhites Outdoors

Will paperwhite bulbs grow outside? They grow in the proper zone as long as you get them into the soil in fall or give them a cold period before planting.

Narcissus requires well-draining soil in full sun. Amend the soil with leaf litter or plenty of compost when growing paperwhites. Dig holes 3 to 4 inches deep when planting paperwhites.

These plants look best when massed in clusters of slender stems so plant them in clusters of three to five bulbs. Anytime between September and December is the right time for planting paperwhites.

Water the area after planting and then pretty much forget about the bulbs until spring. Check the area in April to May and you will start to see the green shoots of the foliage forcing their way through the soil.

Care of Paperwhites

Paperwhites are one of the easiest flowers to care for. The blooms last for over a week and then you can cut off the spent stems. Leave the foliage in the ground until it is dead, then cut it back. The foliage helps gather solar energy for the bulb to store and use in the next season’s growth.

If you planted the flowers as forced bulbs in cooler zones, you will need to dig them up and over winter them indoors. Let the bulb dry out for a few days and then nestle it in a mesh or paper bag surrounded by peat moss.

In successive seasons, good care of paperwhites should include a high phosphorus fertilizer worked into the soil around the bulbs in spring. This will help encourage bigger and healthier blooms. Growing paperwhites is easy and makes a lovely indoor or outdoor display.

This will be the only time I mention Christmas (at least this month). If last year you were filled with a mild panic as to what to give as presents – something pretty, inexpensive and cheerful – then try this. Buy some narcissus bulbs, put them in an attractive container, coax them into life and by Christmas you’ll be able to deliver a bowl of the prettiest, sweetest-smelling, small-flowered daffodils.

Paperwhites, such as Narcissus papyraceus, N. tazetta and N. canaliculatus, hail from warm Mediterranean regions. Here, they bloom from late autumn to early spring. They are not suitable to grow outside in the UK unless you’re way down south or extremely sheltered.

Paperwhites are snow white and paper thin. The two most popular varieties are ‘Ziva’ and ‘Scilly Spring’, which has a sweet musky smell. Other favourites are N. tazetta ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’, which has up to 20 flowers per stem, little butter yellow things with a sweet scent, and the smaller N. canaliculatus, which has white flowers with a yellow centre and a spicy smell.

As these are essentially going to be one-trick wonders, you don’t have to worry about food and can grow them in gravel or grit. This means you can go to town on containers such as Victorian jelly moulds, sugar bowls, tea cups, glasses or vases. As long as the container is watertight and at least twice the depth of the bulb, it should work. Fill it with gravel to just below the rim, and place the bulbs shoulder to shoulder, so their noses sit just above the rim. Add a bit more grit, so the bulbs are nestled in, and water to just below the base of the bulb.

Keep the containers somewhere cool (10-15C), dry and out of direct sunlight. The trick is to get them to grow slowly. Eight weeks in a cool position will have them blooming for the end of December. Once the buds appear, move them to a sunnier position to encourage them to flower. Once in flower, make them last longer by moving them back to a cooler position.

With all the best intentions, however, they often grow weak, long and leggy, and the flowers topple. But at Cornell University they found that if they gave the bulb some water with a shot of alcohol, this didn’t happen; instead, you get the same size blooms on shorter, stouter stems. The consensus is that when the top growth is about 15-20cm tall, change the water so that it has a shot of vodka (or gin) mixed in and they’ll learn to stand up straight.

Once the bulbs are over, compost them or put them somewhere very sheltered and hope for the best.

Alys on… overwintering onions

Japanese or overwintering onions are dear to my heart. They’re plump, not too strong, yet bursting with juices. They don’t store well, so eat them up. They are pretty hardy, though; winter doesn’t faze (most of) them. In any batch a few sulk and give up, but enough will soldier on, so you can harvest onions from June onwards (a good six weeks ahead of those planted next spring). They look lovely, their punkish mohicans feathery green when everything else is battered flat.

Buy the best bulbs (sets) you can lay your hands on. Plant from now until November into fairly rich soil that has been recently dug over, so the roots can get established before the cold, wet weather. If your site is not very sheltered then sometimes it’s worth starting them off in They can also be started in large modules in a coldframe. This ensures a high success rate. Keep them in the modules until spring, if necessary.

Plant 15cm apart in both directions so that their tips are just buried. This stops blackbirds uprooting them. Pea sticks or twigs further discourage the birds. You should see growth within two to three weeks. ‘Radar’ is a popular hardy choice, ‘Senshyu’ is the original, with a semi-flat shape and yellow and brown skin, and ‘Electric’ is a red onion, though much less hardy.

by High Country Gardens

The classic Ziva Paperwhite.

Have you ever wondered what the lovely white wintertime flowers were, in holiday photographs and homes? Have you tried to grow them and felt they somehow didn’t come out quite right? Floppy, no flowers?Here we have it, just for you – easy-to-follow instructions for bountiful holiday paperwhite blooms.

But before we get started, let’s learn a bit about who they are and where they come from…

What we call paperwhites are from the genus Narcissus, commonly known as daffodils. With delicate white petals and a lovely scent they are icons of the holiday season. What makes this group of daffodils special for our use, is that they do not require chilling to bloom. Native to the western Mediterranean region they are naturally hardy only in zones 8-11, but they find worldwide use as bulbs for indoor forcing, where everyone can enjoy their fragrant, graceful flowers.

What is forcing? Forcing bulbs means that we mimic the bulb’s environmental needs (such as a cold spell) by artificially creating conditions to ‘trick’ the bulb into thinking it’s time to bloom, even in the depths of winter. Any time you see spring bulbs blooming in pots during the winter, they have been ‘forced’. While many bulbs need a solid cold season, paperwhites do not, making them and amaryllis, our number one picks for great holiday blooms.

Here’s our easy how-to guide to holiday paperwhites:

  1. Pick your bulbs. If you like the scent of paperwhites, or want to try its traditional scent, I’d suggest ‘Ziva’. If, on the other hand, you’d prefer only a faint scent, try ‘Inbal’ instead. ‘Inbal’ bulbs should be planted in soil only, not just gravel. Choose large bulbs with firm flesh, roots and maybe even a bit of growth.
  2. Choose your medium. ‘Ziva’ paperwhite bulbs will bloom happily in soil, gravel, sand, glass beads or even just water. This makes their use an experiment in creativity. Often the medium I choose is dependent upon the pot.
  3. Choose your container. Have fun, be inventive! Old pots, trays, jars, hurricane vases, bowls. Try planting them in a clear, tall vase (the vase will help keep them upright as they grow, or a large pot or saucer where you can pack it full of bulbs. They don’t need a lot of room for their roots, so a pot or saucer only a few inches deep will work just fine. I like to plant an assortment of containers, from single bulbs (great gifts) to large showy masses of flowers. Often I choose favorite garden pots. The only problems is that they have a drainage hole in the bottom and if gravel is the medium, water will run right through your pot. Here’s a quick solution: Use an old wine bottle cork to plug the hole. You may need to shave its edges to fit it in, but it will swell and remain adequately water-tight. It will stand up in your pot allowing easy removal – the paperwhite will grow right around it.
  4. Plant! Place about two inches of your growing medium (soil, gravel, etc.) in the bottom of your pot. Nestle bulbs, root side down, pointy end up, in the medium. For a full look, place them right next to each other, or spread them out for a looser look. Add more medium to stabilize your bulbs, but don’t totally cover them. If your group is large you may want to place a wire plant support around them to support them as they grow. Water until just the bottom of the bulbs are in water.
  5. Place them in a cool (50-60 degrees F), low light location until shoots appear. Depending upon your location, this may take 1-2 weeks. Keep watered as needed.
  6. Once growth appears, bring them out into a sunny, warm location, turning as they grow to keep them straight. Continue watering as needed, but don’t overwater – if the bulbs sit in deep water, they may rot. No fertilizer needed, the bulbs have all food necessary for growth. It’s really that easy for lovely winter blooms!
  7. A Note about Height or How to Prevent Flopping Over.

    Paperwhite narcissus grows 16-24 inches in height. As their blooms weigh in they may start to flop over. Tying them together with a nice ribbon is an easy fix, or if you have a garden plant support that suits you, it’s a solution. Otherwise, what if you could have paperwhites that grew less tall?! It’s now possible to do just that with one simple trick:

    Pickling Your Paperwhites Makes Them Shorter!

    Start your paperwhites as above, but when they have sprouted and started to grow 1-2 inches tall, simply pour out their water and replace it with water plus vodka or gin (inexpensive is good!). From now on, water with your vodka/water mixture and your paperwhites will grow just as beautifully, but they will be 1/3 to ½ less tall. The alcohol content should only be 5-6% in your solution or 1 part vodka or gin to 7 parts water. Here’s a recipe:

  • ½ cup vodka or gin
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • Water as needed. Do not use beer, wine or other liquors with sugar!

    Inbal Paperwhites.

    I like to plant paperwhites every two weeks through the holiday season, ensuring spritely flowers through deep winter. Store bulbs in a dark place at room temperature. Once the blooms are done and the flowers faded, simply shake out the gravel and save for reuse. Spent plants may be added to the compost pile or yard waste bin.

    Growing paperwhites is a fun family holiday activity with blooms appearing in as little as four weeks. Give it a try – it will soothe your gardening itch and reward everyone with cheery, bright blossoms.

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