How to grow paperwhites

Paperwhite narcissus are bulbs that are native to the Mediterranean region. They are well-known for their fragrant flowers and pretty white blooms that are perfect for adding a touch of elegance to any indoor or outdoor space. Growing paperwhites is relatively easy, and with a few tips, you can enjoy these beautiful flowers all year round.

How to grow paperwhites

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow Paperwhites indoors:

Purchase bulbs that are pre-cooled from your local garden center: Precooled means that they have already experienced the required winter cooling effect to allow them to grow and bloom once planted.

Choose the right container: Pick a container that has good drainage holes. You can use a shallow bowl, a glass vase, or a decorative container. Make sure the container is clean and free of any debris before planting.

Fill the container with potting soil: Fill with potting soil, leaving about 2-3 inches of space from the top. Make sure the soil is moist, but not soggy wet.

Plant paperwhites: Place the bulbs on top of the soil, making sure they are spaced evenly apart. Cover the bulbs with soil, leaving the tips slightly exposed.

Water the bulbs carefully to avoid disturbing the soil and bulbs: Water the soil until it is evenly moist. Do not over-water the bulbs as this can lead to root rot. Well drained soil is the key.

Provide the right amount of light: Place the container in bright light and a warm location that is not too hot. This will help the bulbs to grow and bloom. Typically room temperature is just right.

Wait for growth: It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for the bulbs to grow and produce flowers. Keep the soil moist during this time, but do not over-water the bulbs. I like to let the soil dry slightly between waterings.

Enjoy the blooms: Once the flowers have started blooming, you can enjoy their beauty for several weeks. Once the flowers start to wilt, you can cut the spent flowers off leaving the green leaves to grow.

Caring for paperwhites after they bloom

Here are the basic steps for caring for paperwhites after the bulbs bloom:

Care for the bulbs after blooming: Once the flowers have finished, cut the stems off, leaving the leaves intact. Keep the leaves on the plant until they start to yellow, which usually takes several weeks. Once the leaves have withered, remove them and let the bulbs dry out.

Store the bulbs: Once the bulbs have dried out, store them in a cool, dry dark place until the next season. You can also re-plant the bulbs in the garden if you live where the minimum winter temperature doesn’t fall below -10 deg C. If all goes well, they will bloom the following spring.

Additional tips for growing paperwhites

Paperwhite Narcissus does not need to be refrigerated before planting, as some other bulbs do. They are normally sold as pre-cooled and ready to plant.

If you want to grow Paperwhite Narcissus for the holidays, start planting the bulbs in early November.

Paperwhite Narcissus do have a strong fragrance, so if you are looking for a less scented plant, you may want to choose another type of Daffodil.

To encourage bushier growth and more flowers, you can plant multiple bulbs in one container. I normally put 3 in a 5 inch pot for example.

Bonus tips:

  • Choose a sunny location or a sunny window for indoor growing
  • Make sure the soil is well-drained
  • Keep the soil moist, but avoid over-watering
  • Provide bright, indirect light
  • Place bulbs in a shallow pot with their tips exposed
  • Keep growing in a cool spot to slow the plant and extend the bloom.

These tips will help ensure that your paperwhites will grow and bloom beautifully, bringing a touch of elegance to your home or garden. Additionally, paperwhites make great gifts and can be planted in the late fall in warm climates. So, whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, growing paperwhites is a simple and rewarding experience.

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