Special Tips for Paperwhites

Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta papyraceus), are among the most popular forcing flowers, since they don't require a period of chilling. They are easy to start and can give you indoor blooms from Thanksgiving until late March, if planted successively, batch after batch in the late fall.

Using Pots without Drainage Holes:

Paperwhites are most easily forced using 3 - 4 inch (8 - 10 cm) deep pots that don't have drainage holes. First place 1 - 2 inches (2 - 5 cm) of pebbles, decorative stones, or washed gravel in the bottom of the pot. Then place the bulbs on the pebbles, gravel, etc., and carefully fill in with enough pebbles to hold the bulbs in place but not cover them. The noses of the bulbs should be showing. A crowded grouping will be the most attractive.

Add just enough water to bring it to just below the base of the bulbs and keep it at this level. Never let the water reach the level of the bulbs, as the bulbs may rot.

Using Pots with Drainage Holes:

Use a pot that is 3 to 4 inches (8 - 10 cm) deep, and good quality potting soil, or other sterilized planting medium. Any width pot can be used; it depends on the number of bulbs to be forced. Plant the bulbs with the noses showing, and at the level of (or slightly below) the rim of the pot. After planting, water thoroughly, and keep moist. Do not fertilize.

Light Conditions:

Initially, keep the pots in a cool dark room (temperature range: 60 -65°F/15 - 18°C), until the roots begin to develop (about 2 -3 weeks). Then move to a bright sunny, window (preferably with a southern exposure). When the plants begin to flower, remove them from direct sunlight and place them in a cooler area with indirect light. This helps to prolong the flowering of the plants.

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Last modified: October 13, 2008