How to Grow Paperwhite Bulbs in any Climate


Appearing in late winter or early spring, lovely little sweet-smelling paperwhites are a welcome sight after months of cold weather, with long-lasting blooms that are a promise of warmer weather to come. You can plant paperwhite bulbs between September and the end of the year. In spite of the delicate appearance of the paperwhite blooms, the bulbs are tough and can be planted in 100-degree heat or near-freezing cold.

Step 1

Plant paperwhite bulbs in full sunlight and well-drained soil. If water tends to puddle for more than five or six hours after a rain, work 2 to 3 inches of compost, manure or shredded bark into the top 6 inches of soil.

Step 2

Dig a small hole with a trowel, and plant the paperwhite bulb 3 to 4 inches deep. The pointed end of the bulb should be facing up. Plant 4 or 5 paperwhite bulbs for each square foot of planting area.

Step 3

Water the area immediately after planting, soaking the soil.

Step 4

Allow the paperwhite's foliage to remain on the plant until it dies down and turns yellow. As long as the foliage is green, it supplies the sun's energy to the bulbs for next year's growth.

Step 5

Fertilize paperwhite in late autumn or early spring, using a general purpose water-soluble fertilizer. If you forget to fertilize, the paperwhite will do fine, but fertilizer will create more blooms and bigger flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Paperwhite bulbs
  • Compost, manure or shredded bark
  • Trowel
  • General-purpose water-soluble fertilizer


  • Easy to Grow Bulb: Paperwhite (and their cousins) Growing Information
  • North Haven Gardens: Bulb-Growing Tips and Information for Successful Blooms
Keywords: plant paperwhites, grow paperwhites, paperwhite bulbs

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.