It's Time to Plant Paper Whites

Every year around this time I begin my indoor container gardening of Paper Whites.  Not only do I use these blooms in my own home, but I use them in my design work throughout the winter months and always have a few extra containers on hand for beautiful hostess gifts.   Paper Whites, also known as Narcissus, were named after the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, who was a hunter renowed for his beauty.  And beautify is just what you get when these white star like floral blooms grace your tables and mantles.

While you can pick up generic boxes of Paper White bulbs in the store already planted in containers, doing it yourself, in your own selected container, is easy. The fragrant flowers bloom within about 3 weeks of planting, for almost instant gratification. You can buy the bulbs in bulk at your local garden center.  See the how-to guide below for creating your own beautiful arrangements:

How to Force Paper Whites Indoors:
  •  Choose a container that complements your holiday and living space decor.   A container that is about 4" deep and has no drainage holes works best.  If you want your blooms to be in a deeper container, such as a big silver bowl,  fill the container with peat moss to roughly 4" below the container's surface and follow the directions below with 2" of stone on top.
  •  Spread an inch or two of stones, marbles or gravel along the bottom of the container.
  • Position the bulbs, pointed end up, on top of the stone layer.  Get in as many as you can as they look so much better in a large group and the tight fit will keep them upright.

  • Add more stone to fill in the areas around the bulbs.
  •  Add water so that the level reaches the base of the bulb.  Allowing the bottom of the bulb to sit in water will help stimulate growth.  Too much water however will rot the bulb.
  • The bulbs don't need light at this point but do prefer to be kept on the cool side at around 65 degrees.
  • Check the bulbs daily to see if they need water.
  • When you see stems developing move the container to a well lit window.  The sunnier the better but don't let them get too warm as they will grow leggy.  Once the plant flowers, they will last longer if moved out of direct sunlight to a cool spot with indirect light.

    You can add some moss for more greenery

Vintage containers such as this deep planter make for an elegant arrangement

Keep flopped over stems upright with a decorative ribbon

Happy Holidays!