5 simple Tips for forcing Paperwhites to enjoy at Christmas

Have you ever forced paperwhite bulbs for the holidays? I love to do this every year and I want to share 5 simple tips for forcing paperwhites to enjoy at Christmas.

Paperwhites, also know as Narcissus, are winter blooming flower bulbs. They produce tiny white fragrant blooms.

You can “force” the blooms by planting them indoors 4-6 weeks before you want them to bloom.

“Forcing” a bulb means you encourage a plant to bloom outside it’s normal conditions.

You can find paperwhite bulbs in most garden centers this time of year.

They can be planted or “forced” in water or soil.

forcing paperwhites in water

There are a couple of ways you can do this method.

First, you can place the bulbs in a bulb vase. A bulb vase has a narrow neck that allows the bulb to rest on the top of the vase without falling into the water.

You fill the vase with water and sit the bulb on top of the base with the pointed side up. The water needs to touch the bottom of the bulb and you will need to keep the water level where it touches the bottom of the bulb until the roots form.

Keep the bulbs in a place that doesn’t get direct sunlight until the roots begin to form.

When the roots begin to form, move to a sunny location in your home.

You should begin to see white roots coming from the bottom of the bulb in a few days.

Once the roots form, you just need to make sure the roots stay immersed in the water.

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You can also plant them in a container with gravel in the bottom. Nestle the bulbs into the gravel, then fill your container with water just up to the level of the gravel. As with the bulb vase method, make sure the base of the bulb stays immersed in the water until the roots form.

You can leave the gravel exposed or cover the top with moss for a different look.

I like to plant them in my vintage brown transferware chamber pot.

forcing paperwhite bulbs in soil

If you want to plant your bulbs in soil, it is still a good idea to put gravel in the bottom of your container so they get good drainage.

Then you can add a layer of soil and nestled your bulbs into the soil, with the pointy end up. The majority of the bulb needs to be exposed.

Just water the soil when it is dry to touch.

tips for forcing paperwhite bulbs in soil or water

Regardless of whether you choose to plant your paperwhites in water or soil, these tips still apply to both.

Paperwhites tend to get very tall and leggy. And they will typically topple over because they are top heavy.

To avoid your plants getting too tall and leggy you can add vodka to the water. This slows down the growth and keeps them from getting so tall.

When the green shoots get about “2”-“3” tall, pour off the existing water and replace with a mixture of vodka and water.

About 1 part vodka to 7 parts water.

Another tip is to tie the stems together loosely with a cute ribbon or twine when the plants get really tall.

And one last idea is to plant individual bulbs in vintage teacups for a cute hostess gift during the holidays. Vintage teacups are usually fairly simple to find at thrift shops or antique stores. You can also find lots of them on Etsy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post sharing 5 simple tips for forcing paperwhites to enjoy at Christmas.

If you try your own, I would love to hear about it!!

blessings and happy planting,

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pinterest graphic for tips for growing paperwhites for christmas 3 paperwhite bulbs in clear glass bulb vases in window

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If you liked this post, you might also like “How to Make a Succulent Pumpkin“…

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  1. I’ve always loved the look of fresh florals like this at Christmas but haven’t tried it yet! Maybe this year it will happen! Lovely post, Michele 😊 Pinned!

    1. Thanks so much Cindy! And you definitely should try them. So easy to grow and a beautiful addition to holiday decor!

      1. Thank you for keeping it simple! Love it!

        1. Of course! So glad you enjoyed!

      2. I have forced paperwhites every year for years now. Very easy to do love the look of fresh flowers. They are also very fragrant.

        1. They really are, and add such a beautiful element to holiday decor.

  2. Leslie Watkins says:

    Paper whites are in my future! Loved the post!

    1. Oh, thank you so much Leslie! I really appreciate that. Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Paper whites are beautiful. I bought already grown a bulb with roots in water. I just wanted to know can placed that grown plant in the soil. And if yes, what’s the procedure of doing that.

    1. I have never tried transplanting from water to dirt once the roots and plant form. I would think you could just put gravel in the bottom of a vessel, add dirt, and then dig a hole deep enough for your established roots of each bulb.

  4. Great post! We just got a few paperwhites, thanks for the tips! LOVE the teacup gift idea.

    1. Oh good! So glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful!

  5. I got a Paperwhite in a water vase for Christmas bloomed beautifully but the tips of the leaves are turning yellow and what do I do now that the flowers are almost spent?

    1. Unfortunately, they are pretty much done. After they bloom, unless you are going to plant the bulb (which I don’t know a lot about) they are finished blooming.

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