If you love bulbs with fragrant and beautiful flowers, then you can grow Paperwhites.  Narcissus Paperwhites are perennial bulbs that belong to the daffodil family.  Small flowers come in white, yellow or orange. What I love about them is that they bloom in the winter, just when most everything sleeps in the garden.

Growing paper whites is not that hard at all.  Just remember the basic needs of any plant.  That is, sunlight, good soil, plant food, air circulation, good drainage and ample water. When you buy bulbs, it’s equally important to follow instructions on planting depth and spacing. Most importantly, choose healthy bulbs that are firm and without dark spots or discoloration.

For best results, plant paperwhites in early fall. Within 4-6 weeks blooms will appear from 12-18 inch stalks. In mild winter areas (zones 5-9), no chilling is required for these bulbs. You have to dig it out and store it in areas with freezing temperatures.  In that case, it is best to plant it in a pot and enjoy it indoors as part of your holiday decor.

How to Grow Paperwhites in the Garden

  1. Choose a sunny location. Prepare the soil by adding some compost and mix it in.
  2. Dig holes about 3-4 inches deep and double the width of the bulbs.
  3. Plant bulbs in groups of 3-5 in each hole.  Set the bulbs in the soil, 1 inch apart, with the flat side on the bottom.
  4. Cover bulbs with soil and firm it.
  5. Water it well, then keep watering 2 times a week when it gets dry.

After it blooms, let leaves turn yellow and die out as the plant stores energy for next year’s growth. Then cut it to the ground. Next fall, you will see new growth again.

How to Grow Paperwhites in a Pot Indoors

  1. Choose a pot that is about 4-6 inches wide with a drainage hole in the bottom.  Fill pot halfway with potting mix.
  2. Set 3-5 bulbs in the soil touching each other, with the flat side in the bottom.  Cover bulbs with soil just enough so the tips can peek through the soil.
  3. Firm up the soil and water well.  Place pot in a sunny location.
  4. Water soil only when it is dry.

After it blooms, let leaves die out, then cut it to the ground.  Let bulbs dry and store it covered in slightly moistened peat moss. Next fall, bulbs can be replanted in the ground or in a pot. Last winter I left the bulbs in the pot after blooming, watered occasionally, and now it’s growing back.