How to Transplant Paperwhites From a Container to the Garden


Paperwhites are a type of narcissus that grows from a bulb. The flowers are small and white and have a powerful scent. The bulbs are often "forced" to bloom indoors during the winter season by placing the roots of dormant bulbs in potting soil or water and exposing the bulb to bright light and warm temperatures (between 60 and 75 degrees F). Each bulb provides one or two bloom stems, and the bulbs are often thrown away after the bloom period. If the paperwhite bulb is planted in the garden, it can naturalize, or spread, and bloom every year. A paperwhite bulb for transplanting is more viable if forced in potting soil rather than a dish of water.

Step 1

Cut off the entire bloom stem with a pair of scissors after the flower fades. Apply one application of water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength to the soil in the pot after you remove the bloom stem. You want the green foliage to remain intact for as long as possible, although it will begin to decline three to four weeks after the bloom stem is removed.

Step 2

Decrease the amount of water you are giving the bulb as the foliage turns yellow and declines. Continue to slowly decrease moisture until you withhold it completely as the foliage completely dies away. The idea is to keep the bulb viable but not allow it to rot from applying excess moisture. When the foliage dies, the top of the bulb seals itself off where the foliage enters the bulb stem and the bulb no longer needs moisture to stay alive. Cut the brown leaves off the bulb with a pair of scissors at the point where they leave the bulb. Do not damage the neck of the bulb. It is OK to leave some foliage attached.

Step 3

Allow the soil and the bulb to completely dry out for one month. This helps cure the bulb and puts the bulb into a dormant stage.

Step 4

Remove the bulb from the potting soil, leaving roots intact, and plant the bulb outside in rich, moist and well-drained garden soil. The bulb will not come up until the following spring, so plant in a location where you can remember where you planted it. Dig a small hole 4 inches deep and plant the bulb inside the hole. The top of the bulb should be about 2 inches below the surface of the soil. Cover with damp soil. The paperwhite should reappear in its new location the following spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Paperwhite bulb
  • Scissors
  • Water-soluble fertilizer
  • Hand shovel


  • Easy to Grow Bulbs: Paperwhites
  • NCSU: Home Forcing of Potted Paperwhite
Keywords: transplant paperwhites, paperwhites, growing paperwhites

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.