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Growing Paperwhite Narcissi: A Worldwide Favourite


Fashions may come and go, but Paperwhite Narcissus will never lose popularity. The reasons are easy to find. Few plants are as rewarding and as easy to grow, and few flowers have a lovelier scent or prettier blooms. They’re versatile too. Whether you choose them for winter forcing for an early taste of spring, plant them in containers, or allow them to naturalise in your garden, success is almost a certainty.

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Paperwhite Narcissi

In this article, we’ll look at some tips and tricks that will get you launched into growing paperwhites like a master gardener. Admittedly, there is very little you can do wrong with these plants, but we hope you’ll find some creative inspirations that will either give you fresh ideas on how to use your favourite flowers or give you the confidence to try growing Paperwhites for the first time.

Garden Bliss With Paperwhite Narcissi

Most people see paperwhites as pot plants, but given a sheltered position in sun or light shade, they’ll settle happily into UK gardens. Late frosts are your primary enemy, but every garden has sheltered spots, and it is here where your paperwhites will thrive and naturalize, popping up reliably every year to charm you with their masses of white blooms and delightful scent.

Paperwhites in the green

Plant them in autumn, and arrange the bulbs in groups so that they can display to their best advantage. In time, the clumps will thicken to the point where flowering is less profuse. Simply lift them when dormant and divide the bulbs up to refresh the flowering vigour.

Paperwhite narcissus planting info

Forcing Paperwhites in Pots

There’s no need for gardeners to fall into the doldrums in winter. Indoor gardening will keep your green fingers in practice, and paperwhites will satisfy your craving for blooms in the chilly depths of winter if you play your cards right.

Paperwhite Narcissi

So, what do you need to create a winter display of spring flowers? The ingredients are very simple: a container, some bulbs, water, and a sunny windowsill. That’s right: you don’t even need potting soil although you can choose this option if you prefer.

Get Creative With These Paperwhite Forcing Ideas

Like most bulbs, paperwhites won’t be happy with the bulb itself in water. If you don’t have a suitable bulb glass or vase with a neck narrow enough to keep the bulb suspended above the water level, you can use pebbles, gravel, florist’s beads or anything that will form a base on which to rest your bulbs.

Paperwhites Narcissus

As for containers, just about anything will do. Tall glass vases with paperwhites growing inside them make a stunning statement, or you can go rustic with mason jars. Even drinking glasses will serve the purpose. And, of course, there’s nothing that says you can’t use opaque containers if you prefer.

With the base of the bulb just above the surface of the water, the roots will find the moisture they’re looking for easily.

Overcoming Common Paperwhite Forcing Pitfalls

Warmth or insufficient light will make paperwhites “stretch” or get tall and floppy. If you’ve planted them low in a narrow container, the container will help to support them, or else you can simply stake them. But one of the ways to keep Paperwhites short is to get them a little tipsy.

Paperwhites Narcissus

A four to six percent alcohol solution will keep your paperwhites up to thirty percent shorter. Get all the details from the Cornel University website if you would like to try it out.

Stop to Smell the Flowers

Having scented flowers in winter is sure to stave off the gloom of the season, and there are so many fun and creative ways to force Paperwhites that it’s no wonder most paperwhite bulbs end up in containers. Plant the bulbs a few weeks apart to get a succession of blooms and enjoy them as a fun, yet elegant décor item.

Paperwhites Narcissus

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