How to Plant & Care for Paper White Flowers


Narcissus tazetta, species papyraceus, are commonly known as paperwhites. Aptly named for their delicate white clusters of petals surrounding a tiny, shallow center cup, these early spring bulb bloomers can be planted outside in you bulb bed or forced indoors to provide color indoors during winter.

Step 1

Choose an outdoor location with good drainage and in full sun. Plant paperwhites in the fall, prior to the first hard frost, since spring bulbs must be established before cold weather sets in.

Step 2

Prepare the planting bed by adding organic matter, such as composted pine bark, to aid in drainage and provide slow releasing nutrients into the soil over time. Cultivate the soil to a depth of up to one foot, since bulbs will feed from below the basal plate where roots develop. Slow release fertilizer may also be added at this time and incorporated thoroughly into the bed, but take care to follow manufacturer recommendations for rate as over fertilization may damage bulbs.

Step 3

Dig holes 6 to 8 inches deep, and place the bulb with the flat "plate" side down and pointed end, or "nose," up. Cover bulbs with prepared soil.

Step 4

Spread organic mulch, such as composted leaves or pine needles, over the planting bed in the fall. Mulch retains moisture, protects from harsh frosts, and discourages weed growth.

Step 5

Apply additional water to beds that will not receive regular fall rain, as bulbs must have water before going dormant for the winter. Take care not to soak the soil, since bulbs may rot under these conditions.

Step 6

When paperwhite shoots emerge in early spring, remove mulch after danger of hard frost is past. Provide water for emerging and blooming paperwhite blooms. Leave foliage to die back naturally for at least two months after flowers fade, as bulbs are soaking up energy from the browning foliage to feed next year's bloom. After foliage is spent, cut back and discard the plant parts.

Things You'll Need

  • Paperwhite bulbs
  • Shovel
  • Garden trowel
  • Organic compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Slow release fertilizer
  • Container
  • Rocks


  • University of Illinois Extension: Good Gardening: Paperwhite Narcissus: Easy and Fun
  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension: Paperwhite Narcissus
  • University of Missouri Extension: Spring Flowering Bulbs: Daffodils
Keywords: paperwhite bulbs, planting paperwhites, caring for paperwhites

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.