Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Plant Paperwhites in Rocks

narcissus image by Stanisa Martinovic from

Paperwhite narcissus are in the same family as daffodils, but they do not survive freezing temperatures as daffodils do. Instead they are often forced into bloom indoors during the winter and early spring months. Their blooms resemble the daffodil except they are pure white with a small, yellow center. They bloom quickly after planting, usually within four weeks of being potted. The simplest way to force paperwhites is to forgo the potting soil completely and plant them in a shallow dish filled with rocks and water.

Fill a 3- to 5-inch deep container one-half to two-thirds full with small pebbles or ½-inch diameter rocks. Use a clear container if possible, as this makes the water level easier to gauge.

Set the paperwhite bulbs on top of the rocks, flat-side down. Space the bulbs ½ inch apart. Push the bulbs into the rocks until they are anchored securely.

Add water to the container until the water level is ¼ inch beneath the bottom of the bulbs. Pour the water in from the side of the container so that the top of the bulbs do not get wet.

Place the bulbs in a cool, dark room for 14 days. An unheated garage or basement works well as long as temperatures are between 50 and 60 degrees F.

Move the container to a warm, room-temperature area where they receive bright, indirect light after the 14-day period. Add additional water as necessary to maintain the water level in the container. Paperwhites bloom in two weeks once moved to the warm area.


Move the container back to the cool area every evening to help prolong the blooming period.


Do not move the bulbs in the container once they are planted. The roots easily break off, killing the paperwhites, if they are disturbed.

Garden Guides