Paperwhites (Paperwhite narcissus) are members of the daffodil family but are unlike other daffodils. Their bulbs do not require cold weather during the winter months in order to grow and bloom. Paperwhites therefore are more common in warmer climates than in cooler climates. They are also one of the most popular bulbs that are “forced” indoors in containers to grow and bloom during the winter months. When paperwhite bulbs are forced, they cannot be reused or regrown; however, when planted in soil and allowed to grow and bloom on their timing, you can reuse or regrow paperwhites every year.
Plan on planting your paperwhites outdoors in October or November in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11. In colder zones, wait until spring after the last frost to plant them; in the meantime, store them indoors in slightly moist potting soil 2 to 3 inches deep.
Plant your paperwhites so the bases of the bulbs are about 5 inches beneath the soil. Plant 10 to 15 bulbs per square foot and water them with 1 inch of water.
Cover the site (only in zone 8) with a layer of mulch to keep the bulbs warm during the winter. About 2 to 3 inches of straw, pine needles, lawn clippings or another organic mulch will suffice.
Water the paperwhites beginning in spring with an inch of water each week when rainfall fails to meet this requirement. In the summer (after blooming), rainfall usually provides paperwhite bulbs with enough water.
Cut off the foliage with pruning shears only after it dies or begins to yellow, which will happen in the fall.
Divide your paperwhite bulbs in the fall if your garden became overcrowded or your flowers did not bloom as much as they did in previous years. Dig up the bulbs and separate the bulb offsets with your hands and replant the bulbs (or store for the winter in colder climates).
Reapply mulch in the fall for zone 8. In zones 9 to 11, you can leave bulbs in the ground. Your paperwhite bulbs will bloom again the following spring. However, in zones 7 and colder, dig up your bulbs and store them again indoors in potting soil until spring.
Things You Will Need
- Pruning shears
- Potting soil
- You can also plant paperwhites indoors in potting soil and keep them near a sunny window and they will grow each year.
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