How to Grow Paperwhites

Helping you celebrate the magic of every season!

During the coldest parts of the year when everything feels dark and dreary- one of my favorite ways to cozy up my home is to bring a bit of nature indoors.

Paperwhites are beautiful, long-lasting flowers that put on quite a show during the dull days of winter. I especially enjoy these delicate winter blooms as paperwhites (unlike a lot of other winter blooms) give off a light scent that really brightens up my home.

If you’ve never grown paperwhites before- the good news is that caring for these bulbs couldn’t be easier! Simply follow the instructions below.

Paperwhites belong to the same flower family as daffodils- but unlike spring-flowering daffodils that need a cold period to bloom, paperwhites require no chilling period. This makes them a great flower to force indoors during the long, winter season.

Bulb Selection

Size matters when it comes to bulb flowers. The energy a bulb requires to initiate bud + flower is stored directly in the bulb itself, therefore, a bigger bulb, with more energy reserves will produce a bigger plant with a more impressive display of flowers.

When I’m shopping for paperwhite bulbs, I know that the larger, more premium bulbs will often reward me with more stems per bulb so I tend to look for paperwhite bulbs that are 17+ centimeters.

Flower Variety

You’ll want to pay special attention to variety when choosing which paperwhites to grow. Paperwhites have a bit of fragrance to them (some varieties more than others) and this can be off putting to some.

‘Ziva’ is probably the most widely-available paperwhite variety and it is by far the most pungent. Those who dislike paperwhites- it’s often due to a prior experience with this strong-smelling variety.

‘Nir’ has a softer, more pleasing fragrance; and ‘Inbal’ has the softest fragrance of any paperwhite.

I prefer to grow ‘Inbal’ myself as the fragrance is subtle, and it’s not too overpowering even when I grow my paperwhites en masse.

How to Grow Paperwhites

  • Fill your desired container halfway with soil, and then set the bulbs in (with the pointy side up)- spacing them tightly so that they’re nearly touching one another.
  • Add more soil to your container so that just the tips of the paperwhite necks are showing.
  • Water well and then put your container somewhere fun to be displayed so you can watch your bulbs grow!
  • Bulbs- when grown in a relatively cool room (60° to 65°F), your flower display can last for up to a month. In warmer rooms, you may find that your bulbs bloom more quickly.
  • Be sure to water your paperwhites every few days, but avoid leaving them waterlogged since the bulbs will rot.
  • You can expect your paperwhites to bloom 4-6 weeks after planting depending on the temperature of your growing space.

Displaying Your Paperwhites

Paperwhites make great cut flowers. While you certainly can enjoy your blooms while they’re still attached to the bulb, I like to snip a few stems + enjoy them in a favorite vase.

For longest vase life, I encourage you to cut your flowers as soon as the individual blossoms start to open.

Similar to daffodils- when cut, paperwhites do ooze a sticky sap. For this reason, if I’m combining my paperwhites with other fresh blooms, I’ll set my paperwhite stems in cool water by themselves for 1 or 2 hours to allow the sap to stop oozing.

Conclusion

Bulb flowers may seem daunting at first, but I promise paperwhite are beautiful, low maintenance flowers that anyone can grow!

If you’re like me, and want to enjoy fresh flowers all winter long, consider buying paperwhite bulbs in bulk. Paperwhite bulbs are pretty inexpensive + I often find myself stocking up on lots of them as autumn is winding down.

I store most of my bulbs in a cool, dark spot in my farmhouse basement and only bring a few at a time into my warm kitchen space so that I can stagger the blooms of these flowers all winter long!

Picture of Britney Zondlak

One reply to “How to Grow Paperwhites

  1. Informative Blog!! Thanks for sharing

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Hey there, I'm Britney!

A dairy farmer turned flower farmer growing + selling specialty cut flowers in West Michigan! I think flowers are the best way to savor the magic that comes with every season- that’s why at Two Sisters Flower Farm we grow everything from daffodils in the spring to pumpkins + dahlias in the fall!

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