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How to Care for Paperwhite Flower Bulbs

Paperwhites are related to daffodils and are part of the narcissus family of bulbs. They have bright white flowers on the top of green flower stalks and are attractive as an indoor potted plant. With a four to six week spring blooming period, paperwhite bulbs are most often forced to bloom indoors at mid-winter. They require very little to survive and bloom. Plant in late fall or early winter. They require no cold period to force dormancy, so bulbs bloom within six weeks of planting.

Plant paperwhites in pots full of pebbles; soil is not necessary for them to flourish. Fill a shallow pot or bowl four to six inches deep with pebbles, gravel or glass floral stones.

Nestle the bulbs in the pebbles deep enough so they are supported but so that most of the bulb is above the pebbles. Paperwhites tolerate crowding, so place them close together.

Water the bulbs until the water level is just at the bottom of the bulbs and only the roots are submerged. Deeper water will cause the bulbs to rot. Water as needed to maintain this level.

Place the bulbs in a cool room where temperatures are between 50 and 60 degrees F. Choose an area with bright indirect sunlight.

Use 1/4- to 1/3-inch stakes to support stems if they become too tall and have trouble supporting the flowers. Tie the stems to the stakes loosely with plant ties.

Remove spent flowers to prolong healthy blooming. Allow the leaves to die back naturally after the blooming period ends.

Paperwhite Bulbs Come Back The Next Year?

Paperwhite narcissus are native to the Mediterranean and thrive in the warm conditions in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Unlike other members of the narcissus genus, including daffodils and jonquils, paperwhites don't require a winter chilling period to bloom. They are most often used indoors where they are forced to bloom over the winter months. Look for healthy bulbs at nursery and garden centers. Bulbs should be firm and heavy for their size, with shiny brown skins. The leaves supply the energy the plant needs to produce flowers during the next season. Keep the soil evenly moist and place the potted plants in bright light. About four weeks before you want them to bloom, move them to a warmer location and keep them moist. Wait until the leaves are completely withered. Plant the bulbs 6 inches deep in soil that has been amended with 1 inch of compost and 2 tablespoons superphosphate. Come spring, the plant should bloom again.


Store bulbs until in a cool, dark place until it's time to plant. Keep them dry while storing.


Dispose of any bulbs with soft spots; this is a sign they are rotting.

Poor lighting leads to weak stems.

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