There is nothing more fun & rewarding than having plants bloom in your house during the cold months when everything in your garden is asleep for the winter. Paperwhites are a variety of daffodil that are easy to grow and force into bloom. They are great to start now in Mid-November and have them ready for the holidays. They also have a beautiful fragrance.
Planting Your Paperwhites
Paperwhites can be grown in potting soil or gravel. You can grow them in any type of planter. When you grow them in gravel make sure your container is water tight so water does not drain out. Use gravel that is small enough for you to settle the bulbs in so they are supported. Bury ¾ of the bulbs into the pebbles with the pointed tip exposed. Plant them close to each other, just barley touching, using enough bulbs to fill most of the container.
Growing them in potting soil has the advantage of a better root system for sturdy plants. You will plant them in soil the same as in the pebbles by burying the bulb with the pointed tip exposed just above the soil. Make sure your container has a drainage hole and saucer. Since the planter will most likely be out for all to see, top dress the soil with Spanish moss or small pebbles for an attractive look.
Paperwhites require bright light but do not need full direct sun. Putting them near a bright window in a kitchen would be ideal. The perfect temperature would be 60-65 degrees. Warmer temperatures tend to make them grow too fast which results in tall weak plants.
If you have to, place them in a cool area of your house at night like an enclosed front porch or garage and that will help cool them down. On average it takes about 4 weeks to get them into perfect bloom.
When growing the bulbs in pebbles it is important to keep the water level just below the bottom of the bulbs. Having them too deep into the water can cause the bulbs to rot. When growing in soil keep the soil evenly moist and not sopping wet.
Extra Paperwhite Narcissus Growing Tips
- Sprinkle a small layer of activated charcoal at the bottom of the container to keep the water or soil fresh. This is especially beneficial when growing the bulbs in pebbles.
- For a better root system, place the container in a cool dark place for one week just after planting. This will get the roots growing quicker and stronger. After the one week place them in a cool bright area of your home.
- Feed with water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Gro every 3 weeks. It may sometimes be necessary to support the plants with a flower stake kit.
- Ask Dees’ for suggestions anytime!
When the bulbs finish flowering, prune off the spent flowers but not the leaves. Let the plant grow until the leaves brown naturally. After the leaves brown, cut them back to the tip of the bulb. Pull the bulbs out of the soil or pebbles and store them in a cool dry place. Stick them in a small bag of dry peat moss or vermiculite and place them in a cold garage.
The following spring plant them in your garden when the ground is not frozen. The bulbs can possibly make a comeback and grow like your regular daffodils.
Paperwhite Narcissus Supplies List:
- Paperwhite bulbs
- Dees’ Potting Soil
- Activated Charcoal
One of the great ways to fill your winter season with flowering color and fragrance is to grow paperwhite narcissus. This would also be a great project to do with the kids on Thanksgiving weekend. They can watch them grow and have them ready by Christmas. Have fun!