- Author: Alissa Bright
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Alissa Bright UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Area: Indoors in any zone
Size: 12” tall when mature
Bloom Season: Indoors in any season
Exposure: Full to partial sunlight
Pruning needs: No pruning required
Water Needs: Fill your vase with water up to the basal root. Roots of the bulbs should be in water, but not the bulbs themselves. Keep an eye on your vase/container to avoid drowning your bulbs.
Snapshot: Spring doesn't get the fun of freshly bloomed flowers all to herself. Even in the dead of Winter, anyone in any climate can conjure a bit of Spring by “forcing” paperwhite bulbs indoors in a vase. (In gardener-speak, to "force" is to coax a plant to bloom out of season.) Sweet-smelling paperwhites, the bulb cousin of daffodils, do not require a cold period to grow.
Let your kitchen windowsill serve as your Winter greenhouse. All you need is 3-5+ paperwhite bulbs (the more, the merrier), a glass vase, a handful of gravelly pebbles to nestle your bulbs in (root-down, tips up), and water. The pebbles elevate your bulbs, allowing just the tail-like basal roots to sit in water. The transparency of the glass allows easy vigilance of the water level. The bulbs awaken once nestled near a water source, and shoots soon begin to grow from the tips. Tiny, star-shaped flowers will appear in 2 to 4 weeks. Move to indirect light once flowers appear to prolong the blooming period, and enjoy the fragrance for 1-2 weeks before the blooms wither.
Unfortunately, when forced indoors, paperwhite bulbs are single-use only, and can be tossed into your green waste once they are spent.