Paperwhite Narcissus

Paperwhite Narcissus

Narcissus papyraceus

Paperwhite narcissi bulbs are very popular for winter houseplants because they provide both beautiful white blossoms and an exotic, sweet scent. Because they come from warm-winter climates Paperwhite narcissi need no chilling to make them sprout indoors — they are ready to sprout any time.

Here are ways to enjoy Paperwhites as a touch of spring in the dead of winter:

  • Pick up a dish or pot from the selection of those planted by Payne’s professional growers. Although Paperwhites are super easy to grow, these plants are ready to enjoy at home or send as a gift.
  • Grow your own in a pot
  • Grow your own in a shallow bowl or container

Growing Paperwhites in a pot

To grow them in a pot:

  1. Choose a pot that’s only slightly larger than the bulb, or plant several bulbs in a large enough container to hold them 1 inch apart.
  2. Use a well-drained soilless potting mix
  3. Set the bulbs into the soil so that their top third is exposed above the surface.
  4. Water with warm water and put the pot(s) in a sunny area where temperatures stay about 50-60ºF.
  5. Keep the soil just moist (not soggy ― no standing water in the saucer).

Growing Paperwhites in a shallow container

To grow them in a shallow bowl or container:

  1. Fill a shallow bowl, pot, or container part way with decorative stones or gravel.
  2. Set several Paperwhite bulbs onto the stones, pushing them down just far enough so the bulbs are supported in an upright position, bloom end up and base down.
  3. Add water just to the bottom of the bulb. If water covers too much of the bulb, they can rot.
  4. Put the bowl or pot in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks. When the roots have taken hold and the plant has sprung from the bulb, move the plant into a brightly lit room.

With either method they will be in bloom in four-to-six weeks.


Paperwhites in full bloom, supported with a stake and tied with a ribbon

If the stems on the Paperwhites get long and “leggy” tie them together with colorful ribbon. If they need more support, add a stake to tie the ribbon around.

When the bulbs have finished blooming, cut the flower and stem off, but do not cut back the leaves. Put the plants in a sunny window and transplant them outdoors when the weather permits. It may take two or three years before they will bloom again because they need to “re-charge” their bulbs with energy.

Type of Plant: Bulb

Distinguishing Characteristics: Pretty white blossoms and strong fragrance

Water Use: Moderate

Flower Color: White

Sun/Location: Full Sun