Forcing Paperwhites

Forcing Paperwhites

I was gifted a Paperwhite kit and I am finally getting around to starting it! Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are a bulb native to the Mediterranean area of the world and are in the same plant family as Daffodils. They are pretty common for indoor planting, called forcing, in the winter months. They release a very sweet scent and can bring a bit of cheer to the long, dark and dreary days of winter.

These particular Paperwhites came in a kit including a pot and some planting medium, but I decided to force these in a glass container I had from last winter.

Shout out to my friend and fellow nurserywoman/plant geek Leigh of Poplar Point Studio in Ithaca for this cool container and stones! Last winter she and I hosted a meeting of our regional chapter of the NYS Nursery & Landscape Asso. featuring this particular botanical craft. She and her friend Kalee run a very cool business ‘Wine and Blooms’, that features all manner of fun, hands on planting classes. Check out their site –

Leigh and I recently discussed the possibility of hosting a Wine and Bloom event here in the Binghamton area…so if anyone would be interested give me a shout!

8″ tall grass container

To start, I made sure to wash the stones and the container really well to make sure everything was clean and ready to go. Sterilizing things beforehand is important to remove any mold or algae leftover from last time. Since this is a clear container that would make things look pretty gross, but would also increase the potential for rot.

about 3″ of stones

I laid the stones in the bottom of the container to give the bulbs something to sit up on, so they are not sitting in too much water. That will also cause them to rot.

bulbs sitting on the stones, stones approx. 1 1/2″ dia.

After a few layers I evenly spaced the bulbs in the center of the stones.

holding them down….

I then used a few more stones to hold the bulbs securely in place.

Lastly, I filled the container with water – just enough to reach just the bottoms of the bulbs. You want just the tip of the bottom of the bulb to touch the water. The bulbs will then make roots that will go down into the stones. Watching the roots grow is one of the fun parts about using a clear container.

just the very bottom of the bulbs should sit in the water

Another reason I liked this particular container was because of the height. It stands about 8” tall and the bulbs are about 1⁄2 way down. Paperwhites can get pretty tall and leggy. The height of this container holds the bulbs as they grow upright so you don’t have to tie them. If you use a shorter container and things get floppy, you can tie them with a ribbon or a piece of twine and they will support themselves.

I will post some photos of these as they grow for you to see! For now, we patiently wait.


here is what they will look like!

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