How to force Paperwhite Bulbs to Grow

How to force paperwhite narcissus bulb.

I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of the year. We will all gather together, make yummy food, decorate our homes and plant our gardens.

Speaking of planting our gardens, are you a paperwhite ( narcissus) lover like I am?

One can never get enough of these beautiful fragrant flowers this time of the year. I love to plant them in different containers like vintage jello molds, old terra cotta pots, and old white ironstone dishes.

how to force paperwhite narcissus bulbs

How to force paperwhites to grow

It would help if you forced them at the right time. For example, I like to plant mine six weeks before I want them to bloom.

Here are some answers to some of the most common questions people have about Paperwhite Narcissus.

What do you need to force Narcissus paperwhites?

You will need Narcissus paperwhite bulbs, which you can purchase here. Just click on the image.



Depending on the size of your container, you can use as few as one or as many as twelve bulbs per container.

On average, I use 6 per pot.

Next, you will need some containers. I like to use a container that either does not have a hole in it or I use a plastic liner in the container.



Here are some of my favorite containers:







You will need a bag or two ( depending on how many pots you are filling) of gravel or tiny rocks.



If you do not have a container without holes, you can plant the bulbs in the soil. When I force the bulbs to grow, they grow better in the rocks sitting in water.

How do you Plant paperwhite bulbs?

Fill a pot or dish halfway with soil or gravel to force paperwhite narcissus bulbs. You’ll want at least 2 inches of soil or stone for drainage. Set the bulbs gently in the dirt or gravel, and pack more soil or rocks around the bulbs, leaving the tips visible. Water the bulbs thoroughly until the soil is soaked. If you only used stones, fill the container with water up to the bulb’s base.

Check them daily to ensure they stay moist, add or the water level is at the bulb’s base.

how to force paperwhite narcissus bulbs

When is It best to force paperwhite bulbs?

I like to force the bulbs about six weeks before I want them to bloom. If you have constant blooms, then plant them in succession. If you want them to bloom for Christmas, you must grow them in the middle of November.

Can you grow paper white bulbs outside?

To grow paperwhites outdoors, plant them any time from fall through spring. … The leaves supply the energy the plant needs to produce flowers during the following season. In warm climates, paperwhites are less demanding than others. However, if you plant in the ground, they will not come up until the spring.

What do you do with the paperwhites after they finish blooming?

About six weeks after the paperwhite blooms, turn the pot on its side and store it somewhere it will not freeze, such as in a garage or basement. Then, in the fall, turn the pot upright, place it in the sun, water the bulb thoroughly and continue watering until the paperwhite blooms again in the spring.

As the paperwhites grow, they can get very tall, so you can add a small stake into the container and tie them up with a ribbon or cording.

How to force paperwhite narcissus bulbs

Here is some advice: if you haven’t heard on the news, you need to shop early this year. There will be a significant shortage of goods on the shelves this year.

So get your decorating and shopping done early.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy reading:

Shop My Home for the Holidays



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  1. Great tips, Wendy. I’m feeling inspired to plant some paper whites this week! I love yours styled in the clay pots with plaid ribbon. I’d love to share in my Saturday roundup this week!

    1. Thank you so much Kim. So sweet of you to share.

  2. I have never tried this but you have inspired me to give it a try! Thanks, Wendy! ~Missy

    1. They are really easy and make such a beautiful display for Christmas.
      You will love them.

  3. Kathy Swanson says:

    You are so inspiring and you motivate me to try new things! You have introduced me to so many beautiful things for my home. I am having fun and looking forward to what you will inspire me to do for Christmas!

    1. Thank you so much Kathy, I really enjoy sharing with others. I can;t wait to knit with you again. XO

  4. Hi Wendy, this looks great!

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