Image of bulbs and jars

Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs

Paperwhites bulbs in a dishFlowering bulbs can be forced to bloom indoors, creating a beautiful display of color and fragrance even on the coldest days of winter. Some bulbs require a period of cold treatment to bloom, which can be a little tricky. If you’re new to forcing bulbs, we recommend starting with Paperwhite Narcissus. Paperwhite bulbs do not require a cold treatment and are super easy to bloom in water.

Planting – A Simple Hydroponic Method

  1. Find a decorative bowl or dish that is 3 to 4 inches deep and holds water
  2. Fill the dish with about 2 to 3 inches of clean decorative rock, pebbles, pea gravel, perlite, or other very porous substrate leaving about 1 inch of head space at the top of the dish
  3. Add water until it is just slightly below the surface of the rock
  4. Set the bulbs on top of the rock with the basal plate (root end) facing down
  5. Use a little more gravel to cover the bottom quarter of the bulb

Maintaining

  1. Keep the water level just at the level of the basal plate (too much water will cause the bulb to rot)
  2. Bulbs typically do best if they are kept in a cooler location (50 to 60 degrees F) in low light for the first 2 to 3 weeks
  3. Once the bulbs are rooted and shoots appear, bring into direct sunlight and warmer temperatures
  4. When the flower buds begin to show their color, move the plants into indirect sunlight to prolong the flowers

Pro Tips

  1. Plant new pots every two weeks starting in mid-October to have blooms from Thanksgiving into March.
  2. Keep bulbs out of reach of pets and children as these plants are toxic if ingested.
  3. Forced paperwhites will not likely rebloom, so it is best to toss out spent bulbs.

References:

https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/forcing-bulbs-indoors/

https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/hort-home-landscape/2016-11-30-forcing-paperwhites-holiday-decor

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