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Paperwhite Narcissus 101


Forcing paperwhite narcissus bulbs is easy and fun. You can also make great, inexpensive holiday gifts with paperwhite narcissus bulbs.

1. Step By Step Instructions for Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs

container gardening picture of blooming paperwhite narcissus
Photograph © Kerry Michaels

Forcing paperwhite narcissus bulbs to bloom couldn't be easier. All you need is some paperwhite narcissus bulbs, some gravel, decorative stones, marbles or glass beads, and a bowl or a vase. It takes about four to six weeks for paperwhite narcissus to bloom. If you want to make sure you have some of the outrageously fragrant blossoms for the holidays, plant a group of bulbs every week, starting 6 weeks before you want them to bloom. Narcissus bulbs don't need cooling so all you have to do is plant them up and make sure to give them enough water to just touch the bottoms of the bulbs.

2. Use Booze to Keep Paperwhite Narcissus from Getting Tipsy

Photo © Kerry Michaels
The clever researchers at The Cornell Flower Bulb Research Center found that if you feed your paperwhite narcissus a diet of diluted alcohol, the stalks and leaves will grow one half to one third shorter. Though for most plants, this wouldn't be desirable, for paperwhite narcissus, it's great. A shorter stem discourages the paperwhite narcissus' annoying habit of keeling over just after it blooms. Be careful however, not to use too much booze or your bulbs will be too pickled to bloom at all.

3. Propping Up Floppy Paperwhite Narcissus

Photo © Kerry Michaels
One of the only drawbacks of growing paperwhite narcissus is their irritating tendency towards floppage. Even if you use the boozy solution above, there can still be some flopping. Here are some ideas of how to combat this problem, easily and attractively.

4. Holiday Paperwhite Narcissus Decoration

container gardening picture of paperwhite narcissus Holiday decoration
Photograph © Kerry Michaels
This holiday decoration looks expensive, but it's not. Look for vases at discount stores or thrift stores. Also look in the candle section for some inexpensive options. If you don't have a long narrow tray, you can also group your vases in a circle and put them on a plate.

5. Paperwhite Narcissus Gift Idea

container gardening picture of paperwhite narcissus bulbs
Photograph © Kerry Michaels
I love giving paperwhite narcissus as gifts. A mug with some bulbs makes a perfect teacher gift.

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