Tazetta time


If all goes as planned, this room (above) will soon be filled with these (below, sorry for the fuzzy pic). Erlicheer is my tazetta of choice—each stem produces a small bouquet of mildly scented white flowers.

As I’ve posted before, the commonly sold Ziva has become synonymous with paperwhites (narcissus tazetta cultivars) and, for many, has created the impression that all these flowers have a strong and (to many) unpleasant scent. And that they all have single white flowers. It’s kind of nuts—like assuming all roses look and smell the same. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen any other kind of tazetta other than Ziva in the big box stores. It seems like more people would buy more bulbs if they knew there were better choices—doesn’t it?

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Thankful to hear that I’m apparently not alone in disliking the stench of those single paperwhites – and gives me the impetus to try some of these! Thanks!

  2. I, for one, would love to hear about other “non-stinky” choices for paperwhites. I think they’re beautiful but can’t be in the same room with the smell.

  3. Erlicheer and Avalanche are my tazettas of choice! I’ve been forcing them for 7 years now. They are so easy, cheap, smell fantastic, and they help fight off the winter doldrums.

  4. Hah-I think Susan is referring to the catbox-like odor of paperwhites, Ziva especially, some people experience. You know, similar to the “soap” taste of cilantro. The first year I forced paperwhites my husband walked in from work and swore up and down the cat had “marked” in the living room. He cased the room, stopping next to the lovely white flowers and designated it as the spot the cat chose! Needless to say, they ended up on the back porch poste-haste. Does Earlicheer have a more pleasant scent, or is it less odorous?

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