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Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs – Just Add Water & Light

Elvis Elvis

One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to force bulbs indoors. It is a sure way to brighten up any room and make you anxious for spring. There are so many bulbs you can grow indoors and so many ways to grow them; you can find them in almost any garden center. Be creative in your containers, you can use nearly anything.

Each bulb has its own instructions but basically you put them in a little bit of soil, point side up, keep them cool until they sprout, then keep them warm. Follow the directions for forcing on whichever one you purchase. The most common bulbs for forcing are Amaryllis, Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths and my very favorite, Paperwhite Narcissus.

Many things in gardening can be difficult, so this is your easy rewarding flower. Paperwhite’s are easy to force indoors and they can fill a room with their fragrance. Simply put, just purchase firm bulbs, put them in your container with some stones about half the way up the bulb, put some water in the container, put them in a cool, bright room until they grow a couple of inches and then move them to a warmer room.

Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs   Just Add Water & Light

If you get started soon you can have them coming up for Christmas. Paperwhites make great gifts whether in the bulb stage or in the flowering stage. There are a few more details than what’s described above, but it’s still easy to do and the results are very rewarding. To read more details on Paperwhites click the link below to “Read More”.

Forcing Paperwhites to Bloom:

Paperwhites are native to the Mediterranean and are naturally tender bulbs. As a result they will not do well in colder regions unless indoors. This also translates into a bulb that does not have to be exposed to colder temperatures (like hyacinths) to get them going.

Really what is meant by forcing here is to “fast forward” the natural growth cycle of the bulbs so they will bloom in the winter. In the particular case of Paperwhites however, forcing is not really required. With other bulbs like tulips, there is a period of cold required to get them to start growing. You have to put them in a cool or cold place to make (force) this to happen.

Paperwhites on the other hand will bloom without cold pre-treatment that most of the other spring bulbs require. Once you introduce water and light they begin their cycle and will bloom 3-5 weeks after planting them.

Note: To have flower blooms all winter long try staggering your cycles by planting a new batch of bulbs every 2-3 weeks. When one batch of blooms start to go away you’ll have another coming in to take its place.

Getting Started with Pots:

It is best to start Paperwhites in pots without drainage holes (approx. 3-4 inch deep pots are good).

1st – Fill the pot with half way with pebbles, gravel, or other stones.

2nd – Place the bulbs on top of your stones or pebbles but try to make an indention so the bulbs are held in place (don’t cover the bulbs).

3rd – Add water to to just below the base of the bulbs. Do not let the water touch the bulbs to avoid rotting them. Replenish the water every couple of days to keep enough there.

It you are using pots with drainage holes in them, because that’s what you have, follow these tips. Put potting soil (or other sterilized medium) into your pot. Place the bulbs facing upward and at the level of the pot. Water enough to keep the soil moist but not wet. Also, bulbs have their own food supply so don’t bother to fertilize them.

Lighting & Temperatures for your Paperwhites:

There are a coupe of lighting techniques to ensure best results with your Paperwhites.

1st – Keep your pots in a cool & dark room. Note: If you start them in a warm room they still grow but tend to be too leggy. Temperatures should range from 60 to 65 degrees F or (15 to 18 degrees C). Do this for 2-3 weeks until the roots begin to develop.

2nd – Next, you can move your Paperwhites to a sunny window (best with Southern exposure). Once your bulbs begin to flower you can remove them from the direct sunlight and place them in a cooler area of your home with indirect lighting. Note: By moving them into a cooler area with less direct light you can prolong the flowering process.

Choosing Paperwhite Bulbs – If you are ordering through the mail or online you may not have a choice in this matter. But if buying locally choose bulbs that feel firm and fairly heavy in your hand. Check to avoid bruises and nicks as well. Also, try to get the largest bulbs available because these will usually produce more stems and flowers.