Harvest of Daily Life | Growing Narcissus- Paperwhites
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Growing Narcissus- Paperwhites

Growing Narcissus- Paperwhites

Today I deadheaded my paperwhites that I forced indoors this winter and I thought I would share some knowledge about growing these flowering bulbs with you today as an addition to my Gardening Reference Section on this site.

Paperwhites are part of the Narcissus family as are daffodils. Unlike most daffodils paperwhites are very fragrant and are a popular bulb that is often forced indoors. They take between 4 and 6 weeks to grow and begin blooming.

Paperwhites don’t require much space, can be planted in tight clumps in soil or rocks, don’t like to be over watered and do not require a chilling period to re bloom next growing season. They actually are not a good outdoor bulb if you live in a frosty location and this is why so many love to force them indoors.

If you want to enjoy paperwhites but live in an area that receives snow you can plant them indoors in a pot with soil or you can decoratively position the bulbs in a nice bowl or jar with some rocks. Paperwhites can be planted in tight clusters for a pretty effect. Like I said before they don’t mind crowding.

Most people will want their paperwhites to bloom indoors during the winter which is coincidentally the time when most bulbs recharge and grow roots for the coming growth season. Forcing paperwhite bulbs indoors will take much energy from the bulbs thus making blooming the following year difficult. It often takes two to three years before the forced bulbs will re bloom again and many people will simply toss their paperwhite bulbs after forcing.

Forcing Paperwhites Indoors-

To force your paperwhite bulbs simply plant them so the bulb top is level with the soil or other chosen growing medium, lightly water and then place the planted bulbs in a cool/ dark place (45 to 55 degrees is ideal) for about 2 weeks. This allows the roots time to develop before the rapid leaf and stem growth begins. Water lightly as needed and when you see that the stems and leaves have begun to emerge from the bulb (if you planted the bulb in rocks you will also be able to see that the roots have grown) you can relocate the planted bulb to a bright/ cool room and watch the beauty unfold!

Planting Paperwhites Outdoors-

Paperwhites are winter hardy outdoors ONLY in zones 8-10 (want to find your hardiness zone?), they are not really winter hardy like daffodils and since they don’t require a chilling period the frosty weather will often do much damage to these bulbs.

If you live in a warmer area where you can plant these outdoors you should do so in the fall. Plant your paperwhites in a location that gets full sun for most of the day and plant the bulbs about 3-4inches below the soil surface. When planted outdoors in the fall they will have the winter to develop hardy root systems and will surface in the spring to bloom.

Care during the dormant period-

Deadheading the spent flowers will help the bulb preserve energy for the next growing season but do not clip the leaves. Leaves should be allowed to die back naturally and photosynthesize (this is part of the recharging process of the bulb), when the leaves are all dead (about 6 weeks after flowering) they can only then be clipped or mowed. In poor soils or when in containers a high-phosphate fertilizer applied in the spring will help the bulb recharge for the next growing season.

Growing Paperwhites as Perennials Indoors in colder climates- 
If you want your paperwhites to come back year after year they need to be grown in soil and provided with ample “food”. If you are like me and live in a colder climate consider planting your paperwhites with another bulb or plant. This way you can allow your paperwhites to grow, die back and be undisturbed until they are ready to grow again. I planted mine in a pot with anemonies and added bone meal to the soil for added nutrients.

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  • I’ve never forced bulbs but have often thought about it. Now I will know how if I decided to do it next year! Thanks for sharing and stopping by my site!

    Happy New Year!

    Wendy’s last blog post..Just Rambling

    January 1, 2008 at 9:49 pm
  • Great post! I’ve always wanted to force bulbs this time of year but have never taken the time to do it. Now that my daughter is getting older, it would be a fun project for us to do together.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I’m excited to peruse your business information. I’m always on the look out for new, unique gifts for my girlfriends.
    Happy New Year!

    Hyphen Mama’s last blog post..Is There a Statute of Limitations?

    January 1, 2008 at 11:42 pm
  • Their scent is really nice too! The ones you forced in the living room gave off a nice, fresh scent that filled the room.

    January 2, 2008 at 12:14 pm
  • Kimball
    Reply

    I bought some bulbs at a discount store
    and have enjoyed planting them amongst
    other plants..
    They are pretty but I find they stink !!

    April 3, 2008 at 2:09 pm
  • Linda
    Reply

    I live in ZONE 13, Phoenix, AZ. I have paperwhites growing outdoors and they bloom in December. For three years I’ve had blooms at Christmas.
    Linda

    May 1, 2008 at 10:39 am
  • Geneva
    Reply

    I have some paperwhites but they don’t have the leaves on them like the ones I see, they are just long stems with the flowers at the top. I want to know if I need to cut the stems off after they finish blooming are what. They are real tall and they are ugly looking right now. Thanks ahead for the answer. Geneva

    February 7, 2010 at 11:56 am
  • Launa
    Reply

    Very good blog post. I absolutely appreciate this website.
    Thanks!

    April 4, 2013 at 9:48 am
  • john wheat
    Reply

    I don’t follow. My paperwhites have finished blooming and tops stems are dead and have turned yellow. What now, do i dig them up and store them until fall. or do i need to leave them in the soil.
    there must be 100 bulbs in one clump:?
    I must have five clumps of about 100 bulbs each.
    Can i dry them and hold them to sell or to plant in the fall.
    Help John

    June 23, 2013 at 8:11 pm

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