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Narcissus by December 25.

Narcissus by December 25 Fragrant and festive, blooming narcissus in a basket make a handsome gift. For flowers around Christmas, plant bulbs this month.

The basket pictured here took only 15 minutes to assemble, required minimal care, and cost about $15. The expense most likely to vary widely is the basket's price (those shown cost $10 to $15). Bulbs run 60 to 90 cents each, and potting soil is about $4 for a 1-cubic-foot bag. The plastic bag, sphagnum moss, and basket decorations cost about $15 in total, but you can fill several baskets with them.

Good bulbs to grow indoors

Paper-white narcissus (N. tazetta) are by far the most reliable for growing indoors this time of year. Unlike other daffodils, they don't require prechilling or a specific period of cool root growth to bloom.

Paper-whites have clusters of small flowers on 12-to 16-inch stems. Named varieties include the original French strain and two slightly larger, better formed ones from Israel, 'Gallilea' and 'Ziva'. Differences are slight, and most nurseries don't distinguish between varieties.

Related and almost equally foolproof bulbs: Chinese sacred lily, white petals and a gold cup; 'Cragford', white petals and a scarlet cup; 'Geranium', white petals and an orange cup; 'Grand Soleil d'Or', golden yellow. For more bulbs to grow in baskets, see page 246.

Planting a narcissus basket

To contain the soil, choose a basket large enough to hold at least four bulbs and line it with the bottom part of a plastic trash bag. Follow the steps at left. Keep soil moist but not soggy.

For fastest flowering, move bulbs indoors. If bulbs spend a week or two at about 50[deg] right after planting, roots grow stronger and give better support; an unheated basement or garage will do. Then bring them into a warmer place; flowers should appear in three to four more weeks.

As the date you want the bulbs in flower approaches, move the basket to a cooler location to slow growth, to a warmer location to speed growth. Or, to be sure bulbs will flower by Christmas Eve, plant a basket each Saturday in November.

Once leaves begin to grow, make sure plants receive plenty of light. In low light, they grow taller and may get floppy. To ensure that plants grow straight, rotate basket so all sides are evenly exposed.

After blooms fade, gradually withhold water. Replant bulbs out in the garden anytime.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:a festive blooming basket
Date:Nov 1, 1986
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