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The Care and Keeping of Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta)

When sleigh bells are ringing and snow is billowing through the air, you might think that flowers and springtime are months away. But while you’re decking the halls for the holiday season, don’t overlook one of the most beautiful ways to decorate for Christmas: with the elegant and cheerful Paperwhite flower. 

Closely related to Daffodils, Paperwhites are often grown indoors from bulbs. These versatile and easy-to-grow flowers can be grown either in soil or with pebbles and water. It just depends on the look you’re going for. 

So this holiday season, surround yourself with fresh flowers. Decorate the table with them, set them on the mantle, line them up the stairs, and wait for your family and friends to comment on these cheerful little beauties during a time of year when flowers are all too rare.

How to Grow Paperwhites Indoors

As soon as you get your Paperwhite bulbs from Stockslagers Greenhouse and Garden Center in New Lebanon, you can plant them as soon as you get home, and they’ll begin growing right away. Unlike most bulbs, Paperwhites don’t need a cooling period in order to burst into bloom.

What you need:

  • A semi-shallow, decorative container or planter
  • Potting soil, or pebbles
  • Water
  • Paperwhite bulbs

If planting in soil, make sure that there’s 1” of the bulb showing after planting. Paperwhites don’t need a super deep container, and don’t really need a lot of space to grow, so any container that’s deeper than three inches is perfect. 

Plant them 3” apart, and make sure they receive bright direct light from a warm, sunny window. Just make sure they’re not too close to a draft that can leave them susceptible to chill. They should bloom within 30-45 days.

How to Grow Paperwhites in Pebbles and Water

Growing Paperwhites in a shallow planter of pebbles and water can add an extra touch of decoration for your holiday table. 

Find a planter or container (Stockslagers has plenty of decorative planters in the garden center), and place a layer of stones or pebbles about 2 – 4 inches deep. Place the Paperwhite bulbs on the pebbles. It’s okay to plant the bulbs as close as an inch apart. Place pebbles in the space between the bulbs.

Fill the container with water until the water line reaches just below the bulbs. The water should not be high enough to touch the bulbs. If paperwhite bulbs sit in water, they are susceptible to rot and you won’t get to enjoy their beautiful blooms. 

At first, keep your baby bulbs in indirect light as they establish a root system. Once a week, gently pull on the bulbs to see if they’ve started establishing roots. Once their roots are established, move your Paperwhites to a sunny window where the flowers will receive direct light. 

Paperwhites grow on long stalks that might threaten to topple over once they reach a certain height. Prevent your Paperwhites from falling over by stringing them together with gardening twine, or by supporting them with a trellis. Stop by Stockslagers to ask for the best options for keeping Paperwhites standing proud and tall! 

Grow Your Paperwhites in Time for Setting the Table for the Holidays

If you get started on planting your Paperwhite bulbs now, you’ll have beautiful blooms just in time for Christmas, and you can enjoy having fresh flowers during the darkest, coldest days of the year. 

Stop by Stockslagers today to grab your own Paperwhite bulbs! Our friendly and knowledgeable staff members are always happy to answer your questions and help you grow beautiful flowers, even when it’s snowy and cold outside.



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