Make your friends and family gasp with pleasure when you give them a winter garden! Paperwhite narcissus are easy to grow and inexpensive as well.
Choose your bulbs carefully. Buy from a reputable dealer. You want large, firm bulbs for good bloom. You can find bulbs at your local garden center in the fall, or you can order online.
Paperwhites bloom four to six weeks after they are planted, so plan accordingly. If you want flowers for Christmas, plant about a week before Thanksgiving. If you want flowers for Valentine’s Day, plant in early January.
You’ll want a pot, drainage material, potting soil, and of course your bulbs. The pot should be about four or five inches deep, a little more than twice the height of the bulb. It should have drainage holes in the bottom. You can use a gardening pot if you want to, but it’s possible to grow paperwhites in all kinds of unusual containers.
Put some drainage material in the bottom of the pot. Shards of broken pots or small stones work well for this. Packaging peanuts are good if you want the pot to be lightweight. Cover the bottom of the pot. You don’t want to block the drainage hole, but you do want the water to drain slowly.
Dampen the potting soil. You don’t want it really wet, but it will be easier to work with if it’s a little damp.
Put some potting soil over the drainage material. Let it sift down between the stones. Put in a little more soil and press it in gently. Don’t pack it down hard; just pat it down.
Put in the paperwhite bulbs. The fattest part of the bulb is the bottom. If you look closely, you can sometimes see little white hair-like roots coming out. The tapered part of the bulb is the top.
Put more potting soil around the bulbs and press it down. It should hold the bulbs upright.
Put more potting soil over the bulbs until they are covered with about half an inch of soil. They should not be deeply buried. Occasionally you may have a bulb that is already starting to show some green at the top. Those bulbs should be planted more shallowly, so that the green tip is just breaking the surface of the soil.
Press the soil down gently. Water the pot until the soil is quite wet. If the soil packs down so that the bulbs are exposed, add more potting soil.
Keep the soil moist. In about a week, you will see first green tips break through the soil. Put the pot on a sunny windowsill, water daily, and watch the flowers grow!
You may want to display your beautifully-scented blooms in their simple pot. Tie a ribbon around it to finish the gift! You can also slide the plain growing pot into a beautiful china display pot, a basket, or any other attractive container. Or, for a more whimsical mood, place the pot in an old hat or watering can!
You’ve grown the perfect gift! Watch the pleasure on their faces when you give them the flowers.