Paperwhite narcissus are one of the easiest bulbs to grow indoors. They don’t need a period of cold darkness as do tulips and daffodils. You can put the pots into a cool, unused room and they will form their flower buds in just a few weeks. If you start a new pot of paperwhites every two to three weeks, you’ll have blooms almost all winter.
Pick a container in which to grow paperwhites indoors; a shallow container is best. Choose a watertight container if you are using pea gravel to grow paperwhites and a container with an adequate drainage hole to grow paperwhites in potting soil.
Prepare the container and growing medium. To grow paperwhites in gravel, fill the container about half full with pea gravel. To grow paperwhites in potting soil, place a rock or pot shard over the drainage hole and fill the pot about half full with potting soil.
Plant the bulbs. Set the bulbs on top of either gravel or soil with their pointed ends up. Place the bulbs close together but not touching each other. Add more gravel or potting soil so that it covers up the bottom two-thirds of the paperwhites, leaving the top one-third of the bulbs exposed.
Water well. Water the paperwhites planted in potting soil until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Water the paperwhites planted in gravel until it is level with the bottom of the bulbs; they should not be covered in water.
Grow the roots. Place the pots of paperwhites into very cool room temperatures--between 50 and 62 F. The light level should be dim, but complete darkness is not necessary. Let the roots form for about five to six weeks. Check them every few days and water when necessary. Potting soil requires very little water, but don’t let the soil dry out. Water paperwhites in gravel more frequently. Add water as neccessary so it is level with the bottom of the bulbs.
Bring the bulbs into regular room temperatures and light levels when you notice the buds forming. They will bloom about five to seven days later.
Things You Will Need
- Bulb container
- Pea-sized gravel or potting soil
- Paperwhite flowers fade quickly at normal room temperatures. To prolong their life, put the pot of bulbs into a refrigerator or cool room overnight. In the morning, return it to regular room temperatures and light levels to enjoy their sweetly scented flowers.