How To Plant Paperwhite Bulbs [ Full Guide ]

Paperwhite bulbs, with their delicate white blooms and sweet fragrance, are a popular choice for indoor gardening during the winter season. Their ease of care and the joy they bring makes them a favorite among both novice and experienced gardeners. Planting paperwhite bulbs is a straightforward process that can be easily accomplished with the right tools and techniques. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of planting paperwhite bulbs, from selecting the right bulbs to preparing the planting environment and caring for the growing plants.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Paperwhite Bulbs

Planting paperwhite bulbs can be summarized in a few simple steps: choose the right bulbs, prepare the planting environment, select a suitable planting container, prepare the planting medium, and then follow the specific planting and care instructions for healthy growth. While this quick summary provides an overview, the following sections will explore each step in detail to ensure successful growth and blooming of paperwhite bulbs.

Choosing The Right Paperwhite Bulbs

When it comes to planting paperwhite bulbs, starting with high-quality bulbs is crucial for successful growth and beautiful blooms. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right paperwhite bulbs:

Bulb Quality

It’s important to choose firm, plump bulbs with no signs of mold or rot. Healthy bulbs should feel heavy for their size and be free of blemishes.

Bulb Size

Select bulbs that are larger in size, as they typically produce more stems and flowers. Look for bulbs that are approximately 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.


There are several varieties of paperwhite bulbs, with each offering slightly different bloom times, heights, and fragrance intensities. Consider your preferences for these attributes when selecting your bulbs.

Purchase Source

Purchase bulbs from a reputable nursery or garden center to ensure quality and viability. Avoid bulbs that appear damaged or have been stored improperly.

Preparing The Planting Environment

Creating the ideal planting environment is essential for the successful growth of paperwhite bulbs. Here are the key considerations for preparing the planting environment:


Paperwhite bulbs require bright, indirect light to grow and bloom properly. Choose a location that receives ample natural light or supplement with artificial grow lights if necessary.


Maintain a consistent temperature of around 65-70°F (18-21°C) for the paperwhite bulbs. Avoid placing them in areas with extreme temperature fluctuations or drafts.


Paperwhite bulbs thrive in moderately humid environments. If the air in your home is dry, consider using a humidifier or placing the planting container on a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase humidity around the bulbs.

Air Circulation

Good air circulation is important to prevent mold and mildew growth. Ensure that the planting area has adequate ventilation to prevent stagnant air around the bulbs.

Selecting The Planting Container

The choice of planting container can have a significant impact on the growth and overall appearance of paperwhite bulbs. Consider the following factors when selecting a planting container:

Size And Depth

Choose a container that provides enough space for the bulbs to grow roots and support their height. A depth of at least 4-6 inches is recommended to accommodate the bulb and its root system.


Ensure the planting container has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogged soil, which can lead to bulb rot. If the container does not have drainage holes, consider adding a layer of gravel or pebbles at the bottom to improve drainage.

Aesthetic Appeal

Select a container that complements the aesthetics of your living space. Options range from traditional clay pots to decorative glass vases, allowing for a personalized touch to your indoor garden.

Preparing The Planting Medium

Creating a suitable planting medium is vital for supporting the growth of paperwhite bulbs and providing the necessary nutrients. Here’s how to prepare the planting medium:


A well-draining potting mix tailored for indoor bulbs is ideal for planting paperwhite bulbs. Avoid using regular garden soil, as it can compact and impede proper drainage and root growth.

Bulb Placement

Position the bulbs in the planting medium, ensuring that the pointed end (where the shoots will emerge) is facing upward. Space the bulbs evenly to allow for adequate growth and support.

Additional Support

To help stabilize the bulbs as they grow, consider adding a layer of decorative stones, pebbles, or sand on top of the planting medium. This not only offers support but also enhances the visual appeal of the planting container.

Planting paperwhite bulbs can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, bringing a touch of natural beauty and fragrance into your home during the winter months. By carefully choosing the right bulbs, preparing the planting environment, selecting a suitable planting container, and crafting the perfect planting medium, you can ensure the successful growth and blooming of your paperwhite bulbs. With the proper care and attention, you’ll soon be delighted by the charming white blooms and sweet scent that paperwhites bring to your indoor garden.

By following the detailed steps provided in this guide, you can confidently embark on the journey of planting and nurturing paperwhite bulbs, creating a vibrant and captivating botanical display within your living space.

Planting The Paperwhite Bulbs

Paperwhite bulbs are popular due to their beautiful white flowers and sweet fragrance. These easy-to-grow bulbs do not require a lengthy chilling period like other bulbs, making them a favorite among gardeners. Whether you want to brighten up your indoor space during winter or add a touch of elegance to your garden, planting paperwhite bulbs is a simple and rewarding task.

  1. Choosing the right bulbs: When selecting paperwhite bulbs, look for plump and firm bulbs. Avoid bulbs that are soft or shriveled, as they may not grow properly. It is also important to choose bulbs that are specific to paperwhites, as different varieties may have different requirements.

  2. Preparing the container: Paperwhite bulbs can be grown in both soil and water. If you prefer soil, choose a well-draining potting mix. For water, you will need a container without drainage holes. Clear glass or ceramic containers work well for this purpose.

  3. Planting in soil: If you choose to plant the bulbs in soil, fill the pot with potting mix, leaving about an inch from the rim. Place the bulbs on top of the soil, pointed side up, and press them into the soil slightly. Make sure to space the bulbs evenly to allow proper growth.

  4. Planting in water: For water culture, fill the container with enough decorative stones, marbles, or gravel to support the bulbs. Place the bulbs on top of the stones, making sure they are not touching each other or the sides of the container.

  5. Watering: After planting, give the soil or stones a good watering to provide initial moisture. For soil, water until the excess starts to drain out of the bottom of the pot. In water culture, add enough water to reach just below the base of the bulbs, making sure the roots are not submerged.

  6. Place in a cool, dark location: Once planted, place the containers in a cool and dark location for about two weeks. This step ensures strong root development before exposing the bulbs to light. A temperature between 50-60°F (10-15°C) works best during this period.

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Watering And Moisture Requirements

Paperwhite bulbs require regular watering to promote healthy growth and flowering. Here are some guidelines to ensure proper moisture levels for your paperwhite bulbs:

  1. Maintain moist but not waterlogged soil: If you planted your paperwhite bulbs in soil, make sure to keep the potting mix consistently moist. Check the moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot.

  2. Monitor water levels in water culture: For bulbs planted in water, it’s important to maintain the water level just below the base of the bulbs. Check the water level regularly and add more when needed to keep it at the desired level. Be cautious not to submerge the roots in water, as this can cause rotting.

  3. Top-off with water as needed: Over time, the water in water culture may evaporate. To maintain the proper water level, add small amounts of water as needed. This will prevent the bulbs from drying out and ensure they have sufficient moisture for growth.

  4. Avoid direct contact with water: While paperwhite bulbs need moisture, they should never be completely submerged in water. Direct contact with water can cause the bulbs to rot and hinder their growth. Always maintain the recommended water levels to provide adequate moisture without drowning the bulbs.

  5. Consider using a water-soluble fertilizer: If you want to encourage more growth and blooming, you can use a water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for bulbs. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and frequency of application. However, be cautious not to over-fertilize, as it may lead to floppy growth.

Providing Adequate Light

Light plays a crucial role in the growth and development of paperwhite bulbs. Here are some important considerations to ensure they receive the right amount of light:

  1. Place in a sunny spot: Paperwhite bulbs thrive in bright, indirect light. Locate your containers near a sunny window, preferably facing south or west. This will provide the bulbs with the necessary light intensity for healthy growth. If natural light is limited, you can use artificial grow lights to supplement the light requirements.

  2. Rotate the containers: To promote even growth, rotate the containers every few days, especially if the light source is primarily from one direction. This will prevent the bulbs from leaning towards the light source, resulting in more balanced and upright growth.

  3. Avoid direct sunlight: While paperwhite bulbs need light, direct sunlight can be too intense and lead to scorching of the leaves and flowers. Keep the containers away from windows that receive direct sunlight, or use curtains or blinds to filter the light if necessary.

  4. Monitor light duration: Paperwhite bulbs require around 12-16 hours of light per day for optimal growth. If growing indoors, consider using a timer to ensure they receive the necessary light duration. This will mimic natural daylight cycles and promote healthy growth.

  5. Prevent excessive heat: While light is essential, high temperatures can negatively affect paperwhite bulbs. Avoid placing them near heat sources such as radiators or heating vents, as this can cause the bulbs to dry out and inhibit flower development. Aim for an ambient temperature of around 60-70°F (15-21°C).

Understanding Temperature And Humidity Needs

Proper temperature and humidity levels are crucial for the successful growth and flowering of paperwhite bulbs. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Temperature requirements: Paperwhite bulbs prefer cool temperatures for root development and bud formation. During the initial two-week period in a cool, dark location, maintain a temperature between 50-60°F (10-15°C). Once brought into light, gradually increase the temperature to around 60-70°F (15-21°C) to promote healthy growth.

  2. Ideal humidity levels: Paperwhite bulbs prefer moderate humidity levels. If you live in a dry climate or have central heating, which can reduce indoor humidity, consider increasing humidity levels around the bulbs. You can use a humidifier or place the containers on a tray filled with water and pebbles to create a humid microenvironment.

  3. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations: Rapid temperature changes can shock paperwhite bulbs and affect their growth. Avoid placing containers in areas with significant fluctuations, such as near drafts or frequently opened doors. Fluctuations in temperature can disrupt the flowering process or even cause the plants to wither.

  4. Provide good air circulation: While humidity is important, it’s equally crucial to ensure good air circulation around the bulbs. Stagnant air can lead to diseases and fungal infections. Place the containers in well-ventilated areas to promote healthy growth and prevent the buildup of moisture.

Planting paperwhite bulbs is a delightful and straightforward process that can bring beauty and fragrance to your indoor or outdoor space. By following the steps mentioned above, you can ensure successful growth, from planting to blooming. Remember to choose healthy bulbs, provide adequate moisture, light, temperature, and humidity, and you will be rewarded with stunning white flowers and a delightful aroma. Enjoy the process and the beauty that paperwhite bulbs bring to your surroundings.

Supporting Growth And Preventing Flopping

Paperwhite bulbs, also known as Narcissus papyraceus, are popular indoor flowering plants that are cherished for their beautiful blooms and delightful fragrance. These bulbs are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance, making them a favorite choice among gardeners and indoor plant enthusiasts.

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The delicate white flowers of paperwhites can make any space come alive with their vibrant colors and intoxicating aroma.

One common issue with paperwhite plants is the tendency of their stems to flop or bend due to their top-heavy blooms. This can cause the plants to look unattractive and can be a concern for growers. To support the growth of paperwhite stems and prevent flopping, follow these steps:

  1. Use a suitable container: Choose a container that is sturdy and deep enough to accommodate the roots of the paperwhite bulbs. A deep container will encourage longer root growth, which, in turn, supports stronger stems.

  2. Fill the container with growing medium: Fill the container with well-draining potting soil. You can also use a mixture of vermiculite and perlite to improve drainage.

  3. Plant the bulbs: Place the paperwhite bulbs in the soil, pointed end up. Ensure that the bulbs are spaced evenly and not touching each other or the sides of the container. This will allow for adequate air circulation and prevent overcrowding.

  4. Support the stems: As the paperwhite plants grow, their stems become top-heavy and prone to flopping. To prevent this, you can use stakes or decorative supports placed near the bulbs. These supports can be inserted into the soil and provide a structure for the stems to hold onto as they grow.

  5. Tie the stems: If you notice the stems starting to bend or flop, gently tie them to the supports using soft garden twine or twist ties. Be careful not to tie them too tightly, as this can damage the stems. Adjust the ties as needed to ensure the stems stay upright.

  6. Provide adequate light: Paperwhite plants require bright, indirect light to grow strong and healthy stems. Place the container in a well-lit area, such as a south or west-facing window. If natural light is limited, you can use artificial grow lights to supplement the light requirements.

Fertilizing Paperwhite Bulbs

Proper fertilization is essential for the healthy growth and blooming of paperwhite bulbs. The right nutrients can support the development of robust foliage and vibrant blooms. Here are some tips for fertilizing paperwhite bulbs:

  1. Choose the right fertilizer: Select a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for flowering bulbs. Look for a balanced fertilizer with a ratio such as 10-10-10 or 5-10-10, which indicates the proportion of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), respectively. These nutrients play a crucial role in stimulating growth and promoting flowering.

  2. Apply the fertilizer at the right time: Paperwhite bulbs do not require pre-planting fertilization. Instead, you should start fertilizing the plants when they begin to grow. Apply a diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the appropriate dilution ratio.

  3. Avoid overfertilization: While fertilizing is beneficial, it is important not to overdo it. Excessive fertilization can lead to excessive foliage growth, weak stems, and reduced flowering. Stick to the recommended dosage and frequency of use to ensure a healthy balance of nutrients.

  4. Watch for signs of nutrient deficiency: Nutrient deficiencies can manifest in the form of yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and poor flowering. If you notice any of these symptoms, it may indicate that your paperwhite bulbs require additional nutrients. Adjust your fertilization routine accordingly, increasing the frequency or strength of the fertilizer as needed.

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Monitoring And Caring For The Plants

To ensure the proper growth and development of paperwhite bulbs, regular monitoring and care are vital. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  1. Watering: Paperwhite bulbs require consistent moisture to thrive. Keep the soil evenly moist but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting of the bulbs. Water the plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Use room-temperature water to avoid shocking the bulbs.

  2. Temperature and humidity: Paperwhites prefer cool temperatures, ideally around 60 to 65°F (15 to 18°C). Higher temperatures can cause the plant to grow too quickly, resulting in weak stems and reduced blooming. Maintain a moderate humidity level (around 50% to 60%) to prevent the plants from drying out.

  3. Air circulation: Good air circulation is essential to prevent the development of fungal diseases and maintain plant health. Avoid overcrowding the plants and ensure they are not placed in a stagnant, poorly ventilated area. On mild days, you can also bring the plants outdoors to benefit from fresh air.

  4. Pruning: Remove any dead or yellowing foliage to promote air circulation and prevent the spread of diseases. Use clean pruning shears to make clean cuts at the base of the stem. Avoid cutting too much foliage, as this can weaken the plant.

  5. Pests and diseases: Paperwhite bulbs are generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, they can occasionally be affected by common houseplant pests such as aphids or spider mites. Monitor the plants regularly for any signs of infestation. If necessary, treat the infested plants with an appropriate insecticide or use natural methods such as neem oil to control the pests.

Harvesting And Enjoying The Blooms

Once your paperwhite bulbs have grown and bloomed, it’s time to harvest and enjoy the beautiful flowers. Follow these steps to maximize your enjoyment:

  1. Harvesting: When the paperwhite flowers have fully opened but before they start to wilt, you can cut the stems for display. Use clean pruning shears to make a clean, diagonal cut just above a set of leaves. Harvesting while the flowers are at their peak will allow you to enjoy them for a longer period.

  2. Display the blooms: Place the freshly cut paperwhite stems in a vase or container filled with clean, room-temperature water. You can also add a floral preservative to the water to extend the vase life of the flowers. Display the vase in a cool, well-lit area away from direct sunlight and drafts.

  3. Indoor fragrance: The intoxicating fragrance of paperwhite blooms is one of their most alluring qualities. To fill your home with their scent, consider placing multiple vases of paperwhites throughout different rooms. The fragrance is especially potent in the evenings, making them a wonderful addition to your bedroom or living room.

  4. Reblooming: Paperwhite bulbs can be forced to bloom indoors repeatedly. After the flowers have faded, remove the stems and place the bulbs in a cool, dark location for a period of rest. After a few months, you can repeat the planting process described earlier in this guide to enjoy another round of blooming.


Planting paperwhite bulbs can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. With proper care, these bulbs will reward you with beautiful, fragrant blooms that will brighten up any indoor space. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure the successful growth and blooming of your paperwhite plants. Remember to provide adequate support to prevent flopping, fertilize appropriately to promote healthy growth, monitor and care for the plants diligently, and enjoy the stunning blooms that have been nurtured from bulb to flower.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Paperwhite Bulbs For Indoor Blooming?

Paperwhite bulbs can be planted for indoor blooming from early fall to early winter, typically between September and December.

Do Paperwhite Bulbs Need Special Soil For Planting?

Paperwhite bulbs prefer a well-draining loose soil, such as a potting mix or a mix of one part soil and one part sand. It is important to avoid compacted or clay soils, which can retain too much moisture and lead to rotting of the bulbs.

How Deep Should Paperwhite Bulbs Be Planted?

Paperwhite bulbs should be planted about 1 inch deep, with the pointed end facing up. If planting in a container, make sure it is at least 3 inches deep to allow proper root growth.

Can Paperwhite Bulbs Be Planted In Water Instead Of Soil?

Yes, paperwhite bulbs can be grown in water using stones, pebbles, or marbles to anchor the bulbs and keep them upright. This method can also produce beautiful hyacinth-like blooms.

How Often Should Paperwhite Bulbs Be Watered Once Planted?

Once planted, paperwhite bulbs need to be watered enough to keep the soil or water slightly moist, but not waterlogged. It is important to not let the soil dry out completely, as this can impede growth and lead to stunted blooms.