How to Grow Paper White Bulbs


Paper white bulbs, or narcissus, are planted outdoors in very mild climate locations. However, they are primarily planted in pots for indoor use during the fall and winter months. This process is called forcing, because the bulbs are forced to bloom out of season. Paper whites are grown in soil in a plant container, but a simpler way to plant them is in gravel and water.

Step 1

Choose a container for forcing the paper white bulbs. It must be at least 4 inches deep. However, it does not need drainage holes as most soil planted containers do. Consider using a decorative bowl you may have in the kitchen cupboard.

Step 2

Pour the gravel into a strainer and run water over it. This will release any excess dust that makes the gravel appear dull and unattractive.

Step 3

Put an inch or two of gravel or stones into the container.

Step 4

Place the paper white bulbs on top of the gravel, flat side down and pointed side up. They should be placed fairly close together, with about a quarter inch between them.

Step 5

Pour gravel between and around all the bulbs. It is fine if the very top of the bulbs peep out of the gravel, but they should be mostly covered for structure.

Step 6

Put enough water into the container so just the bottom of the bulbs are covered, no more. This will encourage roots to grow, but won’t over moisten the bulbs. Check the planter often to make sure the water level is sustained.

Step 7

Place the planted container near a window with southern light. The room should be cool at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Move the plant away from direct sunshine to the coolest location in your house after they begin to bloom, for long lasting blooms.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Strainer
  • Gravel or small stones
  • Paper white bulbs


  • North Carolina State University Horticulture: Home Forcing of Potted Paperwhite
  • National Gardening Association: Forcing Paper White Narcissus
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Forcing Bulbs for Indoor Bloom
Keywords: growing paperwhites, planting paper whites, paper white bulbs

About this Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.