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How to Care for Paperwhite

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How to Care for Paperwhite

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Overview

By forcing the bulbs of the paperwhite narcissus, you can have a touch of spring throughout the winter months. Paperwhite narcissus, unlike regular daffodil bulbs, requires no chilling to bloom and can easily be forced to bloom inside. The delicate blossoms of this plant, which come in shades of white, yellow or orange, are powerfully fragrant.

Step 1

Fill a shallow pan or bowl with potting soil to a depth of 1 or 2 inches. No drainage holes are necessary, but the potting soil should be a well-draining type.

Step 2

Position the bulbs, pointed end up, so they are almost touching each other. Add more potting soil until only the bottom half of the bulb is covered. Water well. Keep the soil moist throughout the forcing process.

Step 3

Place the pan in a bright, cool room (50 to 55 degrees is ideal). Allow the shoots to reach 1 or 2 inches before moving the pan to a warmer location.

Step 4

Stake the leaves with a plant support ring if they become floppy. This can be avoided by making sure the bulbs are started in a cool room and that they are given enough light when they begin to sprout.

Step 5

Adding fertilizer isn't necessary, as the bulb provides all the food the plant needs to bloom.

Step 6

Move the container out of direct sunlight when the bulbs begin to flower. This will help prolong their blooming period.

Step 7

Start new pots every 10 days throughout the fall and winter for a continuous display of blooms, as recommended by Dan Janssen, University of Nebraska horticulture educator. Expect each set of bulbs to take from four to eight weeks from potting until they flower.

Step 8

Discard the bulbs of paperwhite narcissus once they are done flowering, since they will only bloom once. They will not bloom again if planted outside.

Tips and Warnings

  • Watch for basal rot. If you see a mushy brown decay at the base of a bulb, discard any affected bulbs immediately to avoid spread of the disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Shallow pan or bowl
  • Well-draining potting soil or pebbles, gravel or marbles
  • Plant support ring (optional)

References

  • Colorado State University Extension--Paperwhite Narcissus
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln--Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus
  • University of Illinois Extension--Paperwhite Narcissus
Keywords: forcing narcissus, forcing paperwhites, indoor flower bulbs

About this Author

Gwen Bruno has 28 years of experience as a teacher and librarian, and is now a full-time freelance writer. She holds a bachelor's degree from Augustana College and master's degrees from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin. She writes articles about gardening for DavesGarden.com.