How To Plant Paper Whites [ Full Guide ]

Paper whites, also known as Narcissus papyraceus, are delicate, fragrant flowers that are popular for their beautiful blooms and their ease of care. These dainty flowers are a delight to grow, adding grace and fragrance to indoor spaces during the winter months. Planting paper whites is a straightforward process that results in stunning blooms, making it a rewarding experience for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Paper Whites

To plant paper whites, you’ll need to first obtain high-quality bulbs from a reputable supplier. Next, prepare a suitable growing environment by selecting a container with good drainage, such as a shallow pot or a decorative bowl. Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix, and then plant the bulbs, leaving the tips exposed. Water the bulbs thoroughly and place the container in a cool, bright location. After a few weeks, you’ll be greeted with beautiful, fragrant blooms to enjoy.

Choosing The Right Paper White Bulbs: Factors To Consider Before Planting

Selecting high-quality paper white bulbs is the first and most crucial step in the planting process. When choosing bulbs, there are several factors to consider to ensure successful growth and abundant blooms:

1. Bulb Size

  • Larger bulbs typically produce more robust plants and more flowers. Look for bulbs that are firm and plump, indicating health and viability.

2. Variety

  • Paper whites are available in various cultivars, each with its unique characteristics such as bloom color and fragrance. Consider the specific qualities you desire in your paper whites and choose the variety accordingly.

3. Supplier Reputation

  • Purchase bulbs from reputable suppliers to ensure they are of high quality and free from diseases or pests, which could impede their growth.

4. Freshness

  • Opt for fresh, firm bulbs that are free from mold or blemishes. Freshness is key to successful blooming.

Preparing The Planting Environment: Steps To Create An Ideal Growing Space

Creating the right environment for your paper white bulbs to thrive is vital for their successful growth and subsequent blooming. Follow these steps to ensure the perfect growing space:

1. Light

  • Paper whites require bright, indirect sunlight. Choose a location with ample natural light, such as a south-facing window, to provide the bulbs with the necessary light energy for growth.

2. Temperature

  • Ideally, paper whites should be grown in a cool environment with temperatures around 50 to 65°F (10 to 18°C). Avoid placing them in excessively warm areas, as this can cause the plants to become leggy and weak.

3. Humidity

  • Maintain a moderately humid environment to support healthy growth. If the air in your home is dry, consider using a humidifier or placing a shallow tray filled with water and pebbles near the plants to increase humidity levels.

4. Air Circulation

  • Adequate air circulation is essential to prevent fungal diseases. Ensure that the growing area has good ventilation, but avoid placing paper whites in drafty locations, as this can stress the plants.

5. Protection From Pests

  • Inspect the planting area for pests and take measures to prevent infestation. Keep an eye out for common pests such as fungus gnats and spider mites, and address any issues promptly.

Selecting The Appropriate Container: Exploring Container Options For Planting Paper Whites

Choosing the right container is essential for facilitating healthy growth and providing adequate support for the paper white bulbs. Consider the following factors when selecting a container:

1. Size And Depth

  • Opt for a shallow container that allows for approximately 2 inches of space around the bulbs. A depth of 4 to 6 inches is generally suitable for accommodating the bulb’s root system while providing stability.

2. Drainage

  • Ensure that the container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. If using a decorative container without drainage holes, consider placing a layer of gravel at the bottom to facilitate drainage.

3. Material

  • Choose a container made of a durable material such as clay, ceramic, or plastic. Avoid containers that may deteriorate over time or leach harmful chemicals into the soil.

4. Aesthetic Appeal

  • Consider the overall aesthetic and design of the container, as it will contribute to the visual impact of the paper whites once they bloom.

5. Group Planting

  • If planting multiple bulbs, select a larger, wider container that can accommodate the desired number of bulbs without overcrowding. Ensure there is sufficient space between the bulbs for proper growth.

Preparing The Soil And Planting Medium: Guidelines For Ensuring Proper Growth Conditions

Once you’ve secured the bulbs and chosen the right container, it’s essential to prepare the soil and planting medium to provide the best growing conditions for your paper whites. Follow these guidelines for successful planting:

1. Soil Mix

  • Use a well-draining potting mix to provide ample aeration and prevent waterlogging. A mix specifically formulated for bulbs or indoor plants is ideal. Alternatively, create a custom mix by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand.

2. Planting Depth

  • Position the bulbs in the soil with their tops exposed, leaving approximately 1/2 to 1 inch of the bulb’s tips visible. This ensures that the emerging shoots have sufficient space to grow and prevents rotting.

3. Planting Technique

  • Arrange the bulbs in the container, ensuring they are not touching one another and have enough space for their roots to develop. Gently press them into the soil to anchor them in place.

4. Watering

  • After planting, thoroughly water the soil until moisture begins to drain from the bottom of the container. Subsequently, maintain even moisture by watering the bulbs when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.

5. Fertilization

  • Paper whites do not typically require additional fertilizer during their growth period. The nutrients stored within the bulbs are usually sufficient to support their development and blooming.

6. Forcing The Bulbs

  • If you want to accelerate the blooming process, consider ‘forcing’ the bulbs by subjecting them to a period of cold treatment before planting. This involves placing the bulbs in a cool, dark location for several weeks to simulate winter conditions, encouraging them to sprout and bloom more quickly once brought into a warm, well-lit environment.

Planting paper white bulbs is a delightful endeavor that brings the beauty and fragrance of these lovely flowers into your home. By carefully selecting high-quality bulbs, preparing a suitable growing environment, choosing the right container, and providing optimal soil and planting medium, you can ensure the successful growth and abundant blooming of your paper whites. With the proper care and attention, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning display of delicate, fragrant blossoms that will brighten up your indoor spaces during the winter months.

Planting Paper White Bulbs: Step-by-step Instructions For Planting Bulbs

Paper whites (Narcissus papyraceus) are beautiful, fragrant flowers that are popular for indoor gardening during the winter months. These delicate white blooms are easy to grow and require minimal care, making them a perfect choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners.

  1. Choose high-quality bulbs: Before planting paper white bulbs, it’s important to select bulbs that are firm, plump, and free from any signs of damage or decay. Look for bulbs that have a pale yellowish color and avoid bulbs that appear shriveled or mushy.

  2. Select a suitable container: Paper whites can be planted in various types of containers, including pots, bowls, or even glass vases. It’s important to choose a container that has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

  3. Prepare the planting medium: Paper whites prefer a well-draining planting medium. You can create a suitable mix by combining equal parts of potting soil, perlite, and vermiculite. This will provide adequate drainage while retaining enough moisture for the bulbs.

  4. Plant the bulbs: Fill the chosen container with the prepared planting medium, leaving about an inch of space from the top. Gently press the bulbs into the soil, pointy side up. Place the bulbs close together but avoid overcrowding to allow proper air circulation.

  5. Water thoroughly: After planting the bulbs, give them a thorough watering until the excess water drains out from the bottom of the container. This will help settle the soil and initiate the growth process.

  6. Provide support: If you are using a container that is not self-supporting, it’s a good idea to provide some support for the paper whites as they grow. You can use stakes, wooden skewers, or decorative plant supports to help keep the stems upright.

  7. Choose a suitable location: Place the container in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid placing the container in direct sunlight as it can cause the bulbs to dry out quickly.

  8. Monitor moisture levels: Check the moisture level of the soil regularly. Paper whites prefer to be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the bulbs when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

  9. Keep them cool: After the paper whites have started growing and have reached a height of about 2 inches, it’s beneficial to move them to a cooler location with temperatures around 50-60°F (10-15°C). This will help promote stronger stem growth and prevent them from becoming leggy.

  10. Fertilize sparingly: Paper whites do not require regular fertilization like other flowering plants. However, if you want to provide some additional nutrients, you can use a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer once every few weeks. Be careful not to over-fertilize as it can lead to excessive foliage growth and weak stems.

  11. Watch for pests and diseases: While paper whites are generally pest and disease resistant, they can occasionally be affected by pests like aphids or diseases like narcissus bulb rot. Inspect the plants regularly and take appropriate measures if you notice any signs of infestation or disease.

  12. Enjoy the blooms: Paper whites usually take around 3-4 weeks to bloom after planting. Once the flowers start blooming, you can move the container to a more prominent location in your home to enjoy their beauty and fragrance.

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Watering And Hydration: Tips On Watering And Maintaining Moisture Levels

Proper watering is crucial for the successful growth of paper whites. Here are a few tips to help you maintain the optimal moisture levels:

  1. Water thoroughly but avoid waterlogging: When watering the paper white bulbs initially, ensure that you water thoroughly until the excess water drains out from the bottom of the container. However, it’s important to prevent waterlogging, as this can cause the bulbs to rot. Check the moisture level of the soil regularly and water only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

  2. Use room temperature water: It is best to use room temperature water for watering paper whites. Cold water can shock the bulbs and hinder their growth.

  3. Avoid spraying water on the flowers: When watering, be careful not to spray water directly on the flowers, as this can cause them to prematurely wilt. Instead, direct the water towards the base of the plants.

  4. Avoid overwatering during dormant periods: After the paper whites have finished blooming, they enter a dormant period. During this time, reduce the frequency of watering and allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. This will help prevent the bulbs from rotting.

Optimal Light Conditions: Understanding The Light Requirements For Paper Whites

Paper whites require bright but indirect sunlight to grow and bloom properly. Here’s what you need to know about providing the optimal light conditions:

  1. Choose a well-lit location: Place the container in a well-lit area that receives bright, indirect sunlight for at least 6-8 hours a day. A north or east-facing window is usually a good choice.

  2. Avoid direct sunlight: While paper whites need sunlight, it’s essential to avoid placing them in direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day. Direct sunlight can cause the bulbs to dry out quickly and may lead to scorching of the leaves and flowers.

  3. Rotate the container: To ensure uniform growth and prevent the plants from leaning towards the light source, rotate the container every few days. This will help the paper whites receive light from all directions and grow straight.

  4. Supplement with artificial light: If you don’t have access to a well-lit location, or if you want to extend the flowering period, you can supplement the natural light with artificial grow lights. Use full-spectrum fluorescent or LED lights and place them about 6-12 inches above the plants. Keep the lights on for 12-14 hours a day.

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Controlling Temperature: Managing The Temperature To Promote Healthy Growth

Temperature plays a vital role in the growth and development of paper whites. Here are some important factors to consider when it comes to temperature control:

  1. Initiate growth in a cool place: After planting the paper white bulbs, it’s beneficial to keep them in a cool location with temperatures around 50-60°F (10-15°C) for the first few weeks. This will help promote healthy root development and prevent the plants from growing too quickly and becoming lanky.

  2. Move to a warmer location for blooming: Once the paper whites have started growing and have reached a height of about 2 inches, you can move them to a slightly warmer location with temperatures around 65-70°F (18-21°C). This will help accelerate the blooming process.

  3. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations: Paper whites prefer consistent temperatures and may struggle if exposed to drastic temperature changes. Avoid placing them near drafts or heat sources like radiators or vents.

  4. Provide cooler nights: To encourage stronger stem growth and prevent the plants from becoming leggy, it’s beneficial to provide them with cooler nights. Lower the temperature by a few degrees during the night by placing the container in a cooler part of your home.

Growing paper whites can be a delightful and rewarding experience. By following the step-by-step instructions for planting bulbs, providing proper watering and moisture levels, understanding their light requirements, and managing the temperature, you can enjoy the beauty and fragrance of these lovely white blooms throughout the winter months. With just a little care and attention, your paper whites will thrive and bring a touch of elegance to your indoor garden.

Fertilizing Requirements: Information On Fertilizers And Their Application

Paper whites, also known as Narcissus papyraceus, are beautiful and fragrant flowering plants that are popular for both indoor and outdoor gardening. With their delicate white flowers and sweet scent, they make a wonderful addition to any garden or home. Planting paper whites is a great way to brighten up your space and enjoy the beauty of these lovely flowers.

Fertilizing paper whites is essential for their healthy growth and beautiful blooms. These plants have specific nutrient requirements that need to be met in order to ensure they thrive. Here’s what you need to know about fertilizing paper whites:

1. Choosing the right fertilizer: When it comes to fertilizing paper whites, it’s best to choose a slow-release fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) such as a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. This will provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and flowering.

2. Applying the fertilizer: You should apply the fertilizer to the soil before planting the paper white bulbs. Mix the recommended amount of fertilizer with the soil according to the package instructions. Be sure to distribute it evenly throughout the planting area. If you are planting in containers, apply the fertilizer to the potting mix according to the package instructions.

3. Additional fertilization: Paper whites typically do not require additional fertilization after planting. However, if you notice that the foliage is pale or the blooms are smaller than expected, you can apply a water-soluble fertilizer once every two to three weeks during the growing season.

4. Watering after fertilization: After you have applied the fertilizer, water the soil thoroughly to activate the nutrients and ensure their absorption by the roots. Make sure not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

Managing Growth: Techniques For Supporting And Maintaining Paper White Plant Growth

Managing the growth of paper whites involves providing them with the right conditions and taking specific steps to ensure they grow and develop properly. Here are some techniques for supporting and maintaining the growth of paper whites:

1. Light requirements: Paper whites prefer bright, indirect light. Place your pots or containers near a window that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If growing paper whites indoors, rotate the pots regularly to ensure even growth and prevent the plants from leaning towards the light.

2. Temperature requirements: Paper whites thrive in cool temperatures of around 50-60°F (10-15°C). For indoor gardening, keep the plants in a cool location away from direct heat sources such as radiators or heating vents. Outdoor planting should be done in early spring or fall when temperatures are cooler.

3. Watering: Paper whites prefer moist but well-drained soil. Water the plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid overwatering, as it can cause the bulbs to rot. If growing paper whites in containers, make sure they have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

4. Staking and support: As paper whites grow, their stems can become top-heavy and may need support to prevent them from falling over. Place stakes or bamboo supports near the plants and gently tie the stems to the support using soft string or plant ties. This will help keep the plants upright and maintain their aesthetic appeal.

5. Deadheading: Once the flowers have wilted and faded, it is important to remove the spent blooms. This process, known as deadheading, helps redirect energy to the bulbs and encourages the growth of new flowers. Use your fingers or small scissors to carefully remove the faded flowers, taking care not to damage the surrounding foliage.

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Preventing Common Issues And Pests: Identifying And Addressing Potential Problems

Like any other plant, paper whites are susceptible to certain issues and pests. However, with proper care and attention, you can prevent and address these problems effectively. Here are some common issues and pests that may affect paper whites, along with tips on how to manage them:

1. Yellowing leaves: If the leaves of your paper whites start turning yellow, it could indicate overwatering or poor drainage. Check the moisture level of the soil and adjust your watering routine accordingly. Ensure that the container or planting area has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging.

2. Pale or stunted growth: Pale or stunted growth in paper whites may be a result of insufficient sunlight. Make sure your plants are getting enough light by placing them near a window that receives ample sunlight. Rotate the pots regularly to ensure even sunlight exposure.

3. Bulb rot: Bulb rot can occur if the soil is too wet or poorly drained. To prevent bulb rot, make sure the soil is well-drained and avoid overwatering. If you notice signs of rot, such as a foul odor or soft, mushy bulbs, remove and discard the affected bulbs to prevent the spread of the disease.

4. Aphids: Aphids are small insects that feed on the sap of plants and can cause damage to paper white foliage. To control aphids, you can use natural methods such as spraying the plants with a mixture of water and mild soap or using neem oil. If the infestation is severe, consider using an insecticidal soap or seeking professional help.

5. Spider mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that can infest paper whites and cause discoloration and webbing on the foliage. To prevent spider mite infestations, regularly mist the plants with water to increase humidity and keep them well-watered. In severe cases, you can use an insecticidal soap or seek professional assistance.

Harvesting And Care After Blooming: What To Do With Paper Whites After Flowering

Once the paper white flowers have bloomed and faded, you may be wondering what to do next. Proper care after blooming is essential for the health of the bulbs and the continued growth of the plant. Here’s what to do with paper whites after flowering:

1. Deadheading: As mentioned earlier, deadheading is important for redirecting energy back to the bulb. Continue to remove any faded flowers using your fingers or small scissors, being careful not to damage the stems or foliage.

2. Allowing foliage to die back: After the flowers have faded, allow the foliage to die back naturally. This process allows the bulbs to gather nutrients and energy for the next growing season. Avoid trimming or removing the foliage until it turns yellow or brown.

3. Replanting or storing bulbs: Depending on the planting location and your preferences, you can either replant the bulbs or store them for the next growing season. If you live in a suitable climate and want to enjoy paper whites year after year, replant the bulbs in a well-prepared garden bed or container once the foliage has completely withered.

4. Storing bulbs: If you live in a climate with harsh winters or prefer not to replant paper whites, you can store the bulbs for the next growing season. Carefully dig up the bulbs once the foliage has dried out, remove any excess soil, and store them in a dry, cool location. Place the bulbs in a mesh bag or paper sack, and store them in a dark place with temperatures between 40-50°F (4-10°C).

5. Replanting stored bulbs: If you choose to store the bulbs, you can replant them in the following growing season. Before planting, inspect the bulbs for any signs of damage or disease. If they appear healthy, soak the bulbs in water for a few hours before planting to rehydrate. Then, plant the bulbs as you would with fresh ones, ensuring proper spacing and depth.


Planting paper whites is a rewarding and enjoyable gardening activity that allows you to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of these stunning flowers. By following the steps and techniques outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant, care for, and harvest paper whites. Remember to provide the right light and temperature conditions, water the plants properly, fertilize at the right time, and address any potential issues or pests promptly. With proper care, your paper whites will thrive and provide you with stunning blooms year after year.


What Are Paper Whites?

Paper whites are a type of daffodil that are grown from a bulb and produce clusters of white flowers with a strong, sweet scent.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Paper Whites?

Paper whites should be planted in the fall, before the ground freezes, so they have enough time to establish their roots before the winter season.

Where Should Paper Whites Be Planted?

Paper whites can be planted in various locations, but they prefer well-drained soil and full or partial sun.

How Do I Plant Paper Whites?

To plant paper whites, dig a hole about 6-8 inches deep and place the bulb with the pointed side facing up. Cover the bulb with soil and water thoroughly.

How Often Do Paper Whites Need To Be Watered?

Paper whites should be watered regularly, about once a week, but avoid overwatering as it can cause the bulbs to rot. During growth and blooming stages, increase watering to keep the soil moist.