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How to Force Paperwhite Bulbs

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How to Force Paperwhite Bulbs

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The delicate white flowers of paperwhites stand on thin stalks above long slender leaves. The are commonly sold in the fall for forcing through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The bulbs do not require a cold period in order to flower, which makes forcing easy. A few simple materials and little time will produce a pot full of bright cheery flowers. Plant multiple pots a week apart and you'll have paperwhites to brighten the dark months of winter.

Pots Without Drainage

Step 1

Fill the pot with small stones two-thirds to three-quarters full.

Step 2

Place the paperwhite bulbs with the root end down and stem end up. The bulbs don't need any room to expand, so place them in the pot in a bunch with little space between them.

Step 3

Add enough small stones around the bulbs to hold them in place, but do not cover them. Fill the pot with water to just the level of bulb's root-plate. Keep the water level right there.

Step 4

Keep the potted bulbs in a cool dark area such as a closet until the bulbs begin to make roots or show stem growth, in two to three weeks.

Step 5

Move the pot to a bright, sunny window until the flowers open. Take the paperwhites out of direct sunlight to prolong the blooming.

Pots With Drainage and Tray

Step 1

Fill the pot with potting soil to about three-quarters full and firm it up. Add some water to the tray underneath the pot and let it take up some of the water.

Step 2

Put the bulbs on top of the soil in a loose grouping. They don't need much space. Put the root end down and the stem end up.

Step 3

Cover the bulbs with enough soil to hold them in place, but leave the tips showing. Water the bulbs enough to make the soil moist.

Step 4

Move the potted bulbs to a cool dark area such as a closet until the bulbs begin to root or show growing stems, usually within three weeks. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet.

Step 5

Place the pot in a bright sunny window until the flowers open. Move the paperwhites out of the sunlight to an area with indirect lighting.

Things You'll Need

  • 4- to 6-inch pot
  • Small, decorative stones
  • Potting soil
  • Paperwhite bulbs


  • Forcing Paperwhites

Who Can Help

  • How to Force Paperwhites
Keywords: forcing paperwhites, narcissus, spring bulbs

About this Author

Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.