How to Force Paperwhite Bulbs for the Holidays


Spring blooms during the winter holidays may sound like a daydream, but learning the secret to forcing bulbs to bloom indoors is not magic. It's possible to present delicate paperwhites on your dining room table for the admiration of holiday guests--if you plan ahead.

Step 1

Determine the time frame in which you wish the bulbs to be in bloom. Count back from that date 3 to 6 weeks--the general forcing time requirement for paperwhite bulbs.

Step 2

Choose a container with no drainage holes. A clear, shallow container works best for forcing paperwhites.

Step 3

Wash the pea gravel to remove bacteria. Line the bottom of the container with a layer of pea gravel.

Step 4

Place the paperwhite bulbs pointed end up with the base sitting on the pea gravel. Nestle them closely together for best effect when bloomed.

Step 5

Add pea gravel around the bulbs to keep them in place. Do not cover the paperwhite bulbs with gravel, but leave the noses exposed.

Step 6

Fill the container with just enough water to touch the bottom of the bulbs. During the forcing process, maintain this water level.

Step 7

Place the container in a dark location at a consistent 50 to 55 degree Farhenheit temperature for up to 3 weeks. Root systems will begin to form at the base of the bulbs.

Step 8

Shoot will begin to emerge. When these shoots reach 3 inches, move the container into sunlight and a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees.

Step 9

Stake growing stalks if they are tipping to avoid bending or breakage before flowering. Blooms should occur 3 to 6 weeks after the forcing process is begun.

Things You'll Need

  • Paperwhite bulbs
  • Shallow pot or container
  • Pea gravel
  • Water
  • Stakes


  • University of Minnesota Extension, Forcing Bulbs for Indoor Beauty in Winter
  • Iowa State Unversity Extension, Horticulture and Home Pest News: Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs
  • Iowa State University Extension, Forcing Amaryllis and Paperwhite Narcissus Indoors Amaryllis bloom
Keywords: forcing paperwhite bulbs, growing paperwhites indoors, holiday paperwhite flowers

About this Author

Desirae Roy began writing in 2009. After earning certification as an interpreter for the deaf, Roy earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Eastern Washington University. Part of her general studies included a botany course leading to a passion for the natural world.