Planting Paperwhites


Paperwhites, a popular variety of the narcissus flower, have a strong, sweet fragrance and lovely, white petals surrounding a small white center cup. They bloom in early spring and will continue to multiply and spread in their outdoor home. Wait until fall, then set aside an hour or two for planting 10 to 20 bulbs; give yourself an afternoon if you want to plant more bulbs than that.

Step 1

Use a trowel to dig individual holes for a smaller planting; they should be at least 12 inches deep and 8 to 12 inches apart. For larger plantings, use a shovel and hoe or a tiller to turn up the soil in the bed or along the line where you wish to plant the paperwhites.

Step 2

Backfill the individual holes with a 6 inch layer of organic compost or rich topsoil. For larger plantings, work the compost or topsoil into the entire tilled-up area.

Step 3

Place one bulb, with the large flat side down, into each individual hole or place bulbs 8 to12 inches apart in a larger planting bed.

Step 4

Cover the bulbs with another layer of compost or topsoil, then top off with a light layer (just an inch or so) of the soil removed from the holes. For larger plantings, simply cover the bulbs with the tilled soil that has been combined with the compost or topsoil.

Step 5

Put down a layer of mulch as a finishing touch. Mark or label the area so you don't forget where you planted the bulbs when spring arrives and they start growing.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel
  • Shovel, hoe, or tiller
  • Organic compost or topsoil
  • Mulch


  • Bulbs and More: Planting and Care from University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: paperwhite bulbs, growing paperwhites, planting narcissus

About this Author

Annie Mueller is a writer, editor, professional blogger, website designer, and tutor. She attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Mississippi State University, with a Summa Cum Laude standing. She has written extensively on gardening, parenting, education, and personal growth for women.