How to Grow Holiday Flowers: Forcing Paperwhite Bulbs Indoors
As much as we love the holidays in Houston, it often leaves us pining for sunnier days full of beautiful spring flowers. But, by learning how to force paperwhite bulbs indoors, you can enjoy fresh, fragrant blossoms all through the winter!
Paperwhites, also known as Narcissus, were named after the Greek God Narcissus, who became obsessed with his own beautiful reflection. And TBH, you’ll probably be low-key obsessed with staring at these beautiful flowers once they bloom. They’re that pretty!
Paperwhites are usually white in color (shocker!) so they’ll fit right in with all your winter holiday decorations, but if you prefer a little pop of color, some varieties have bright yellow centers, or are entirely yellow. Fresh bulbs will give enough you the best results, and we just received a big shipment of brand new, healthy bulbs at Plants for All Seasons that are ready to go home, so you can enjoy these stunning blooms all through the holidays!
How to Force Paperwhite Bulbs in Soil
First things first, you’re going to need to choose a good container. While it may be tempting to grab the sparkliest, fanciest Christmas planter you can find, you first need to make sure that your chosen container has drainage holes, and enough room for at least 4–5 inches of soil.
Fill the container with loose potting soil with a pH between 6–7, and plant your bulbs with the pointy end facing upwards. They’re pretty small, so you can crowd a few of them in there together with 1–2 inches of space between the others. As far as planting depth goes, you’ll want the pointy tips to be right at the same level as the top of the container, or just slightly below.
Once the bulbs are in place, fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water, and then place your plant pot in it for one hour so it can absorb some of that moisture. Then, remove the pot and let it sit on a plate so the excess water can drain out without making a mess.
For the following two weeks, the bulbs need to be in a temperature-controlled area between 50–60°F, and the soil needs to be consistently moist. The garage should be an ok place for them, and the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot will ensure that moisture doesn’t collect in the bottom and cause the bulbs to get moldy.
After the two weeks is up, you can bring out the pot to a warmer, sunnier spot, and watch those blooms begin to sprout! Keep watering them regularly and don’t let the soil dry out.
How to Force Paperwhite Bulbs in Water
Another way to force paperwhites is in a container full of pebbles and water. So, if you’ve got a gorgeous holiday container with no drainage holes in it, this is the best way to use it. Also, if you buy some decorative, glassy pebbles and fill up a transparent vase, the results will be most lovely!
Fill half of the container with pebbles or marbles (no larger than ½ inch across) and then place the bulbs on top (again, pointy side up). Stick a few more pebbles around the bulbs just to keep them secured in place so they don’t fall over. Then, fill the container with water, just to the point where the bottoms of the bulbs are in water, but most of the body of the bulbs are exposed to air. Don’t totally submerge them, or else they’ll rot.
Place the pot in a cool area for two weeks, just like you would with the soil planted bulbs. After the two weeks are up, bring the pot out into a sunny place so you can best admire the blooming flowers! You’ll probably need to top up the water every now and again as the bulbs absorb it, and it naturally evaporates.
Now, when paperwhites are forced, they’re pretty much a one-shot opportunity, so there’s no need to store the bulbs to replant for the following year like you would with tulips or irises. Once the leaves of your plants start to turn yellow, your paperwhites are nearing the end of their reign, and it’s time to toss them—or, you can just repeat the process with a fresh new set!
Hurry down to Plants for All Seasons so you can snatch up some of these popular winter flowers before they’re gone! We have curbside pickup and home delivery options still available if needed. Just call us to make arrangements!