Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs Indoors

Forcing bulbs is a process used to make them bloom at a predetermined time or under artificially imposed conditions. Consider forcing bulbs indoors to create winter interest after the holidays.

Paperwhite narcissus can be forced without a cooling period. The cooling period is a process that involves exposing bulbs to temperatures between 35 and 50 °F to prepare them for subsequent leaf and flower growth.

For a creative presentation, fill a 2- to 3-inch deep, clear, decorative bowl or dish with enough pea gravel to reach about 1 inch below the top. Add water until it is barely below the surface of the gravel. Position the paper white bulbs in the gravel so that the gravel covers the bottom quarter of each bulb. Carefully maintain water level.

Keep the bulbs in a cool 50 to 60 °F location in low light until they are well-rooted and the shoots appear, usually within 2 to 3 weeks. Then, gradually expose them to direct sunlight and warmer temperatures. These bulbs cannot be forced again, so discard them after blooming.

For more information on forcing paperwhites as well as other bulbs indoors, see HGIC 1556, Forcing Bulbs Indoors.

Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.