How to Grow Paperwhites at Home

How to Grow Paperwhites at Home

Table of Contents

Elegant, easy to grow, and fast-blooming so eager children can daily see the progress of these tall and dainty plants, paperwhites are an ideal flower to add to your indoor plant collection. Keep reading to discover how to grow these beauties at home – it couldn’t be easier!

What are paperwhites?

Cousin of the daffodil and wonderfully fragrant, the cheerful paperwhite is a white, star-shaped flower that has become synonymous with the festive season alongside amaryllis.

From the narcissus family and native to the Mediterranean, paperwhites have tall stems on top of which sit small, starry flowers that are traditionally white, though yellow and orange varieties are also available.

Paperwhite Flowers

However, perhaps the most important thing to know about these flowers – aside from the fact that they are stunning plants to decorate your home with – is that they are incredibly easy to grow! Keep reading to see how paperwhite bulbs’ care couldn’t be simpler, giving you the perfect festive flower with minimal effort!

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When to plant paperwhites

Aside from their beauty, one thing these plants are best known for is the fact that they can be planted at almost any time of year once they are given the correct sun, temperature, and watering conditions.

Paperwhites don’t need a cold period in order to bloom like most other plants do so, though it is traditional to plant paperwhites in the fall to ensure a gorgeous, white display come Christmastime, you can actually plant paperwhites whenever you like!

However, if you do want to have snowy flowers for the holidays, it’s important to plant your bulbs about six weeks before you hope to see flowers. The average blooming time for paperwhites is 4-6 weeks.

Tips for growing paperwhites in a pot

Growing these flowers in a pot couldn’t be easier. Simply choose a well-draining container, fill it with several inches of soil, perch your bulbs on top of this with their pointed ends facing upwards and then refill with soil. Ensure you keep one third of the bulb exposed above the soil line.

Paperwhites, whether growing in a pot or in water (keep reading to discover how to grow in water!), like to be kept moist but never drenched. Water your container so the soil remains damp but is never sodden.

Tips for growing paperwhites in water

Growing paperwhites indoors in rocks and water is another option for this plant and is a way to make its flowers even more dramatic.

For this, choose a glass container or vase and fill the bottom with rocks or pebbles. Place the bulbs in amongst the rocks, again with their pointy end facing up. Add water but only enough to touch the roots of the bulb rather than the entire thing. If the whole bulb is submerged, your plant will rot before it flowers.

Paperwhite Bulbs

Having completed this, follow the same steps as above for storing and caring for your bulbs as they grow. Check the water level regularly in your glass container and refill as needed so the roots don’t dry out.

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How to care for paperwhites

For the first few weeks of growth, keep your paperwhite pot in a cool, dark area that has temperatures of around 55-65˚F. As soon as you begin to see some growth, move your pot to a warmer location that receives plenty of indirect light and has a rough temperature of 65˚F. Just be sure to keep your pot out of direct sunlight as this can damage your delicate flowers.

As the shoots begin to grow taller you can turn their pot every couple of days to ensure they grow upright and don’t lean too far in any direction to catch sunlight.

Paperwhites usually bloom in roughly four to six weeks, with their bloom period lasting about a fortnight. Deadheading your flowers will help to keep your paperwhites looking fresh.

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Paperwhite Outdoors

What to do with paperwhite bulbs after they bloom

It is quite difficult to encourage paperwhites to rebloom and so the best and easiest thing to do with your plant when it has finished flowering is to enjoy its foliage as a houseplant and then discard the bulbs and put them in your compost pile.

Despite their transience, the beauty and low-maintenance simplicity of paperwhites make them the perfect indoor plant for even the most rudimentary of novice gardeners. Try growing these beauties yourself for a truly stunning centerpiece for your holiday table or even just a glorious addition to your bedside table!

FAQs about paperwhites:

Can paperwhites be grown outside?

As you might have guessed, paperwhites are extremely delicate and therefore cannot tolerate frost or freezing temperatures, making them unsuitable for many outdoor climates. However, for warmer climates (USDA zones 8-10), paperwhites can be grown outside once they are given a necessary cold period (usually in the ground). 

You simply treat them like any other spring flower, planting them in fall-time which gives them adequate time to establish themselves before emerging in the spring. Paperwhites are also a great option to use in planters for smaller gardens.

How long do paperwhites take to bloom?

If growing paperwhites indoors, you can expect to see flowers in 4-6 weeks.

How tall do paperwhites get?

You can expect these plants to typically grow to about 16-18 inches in height. To ensure your flowers grow to their full height, be sure to support them with a cylindrical vase or other supportive frameworks to keep them upright.


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