Each year, I pot narcissus and scatter throughout our home. They’re the quintessential winter flower, otherwise known as paperwhites that feel dreamy, yet traditional.

how to grow paperwhites also known as narcissus
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I’ve planted narcissus in everything from a pretty brass planter, to bowls and traditional terra cotta. Sometime’s I’ll add a double faced satin ribbon to help the stand tall while adding a hint of color, but there are a few more paperwhite tricks I wanted to share with you.

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how to grow paperwhites also known as narcissus

Paperwhite bulbs generally take 3-4 weeks to bloom once planted – I like to stagger them to have beautiful blooms all winter. I plant the first bulbs around Halloween, the second right before Thanksgiving, and often a third before Christmas because nothing is prettier in January than a little winter white! I use the holidays as my guide.

how to grow paperwhites also known as narcissus

A few notes about narcissus:

  • they love indirect sunlight
  • prefer cooler temperatures {I keep recently planted bulbs in the garage}
  • you can use gravel or soil, a vase or pot
  • they only bloom once, no need to keep them beyond their bloom
  • they like to drink {see below}
  • rotate the container so paperwhites don’t reach for light in one direction or another
potted paperwhites / narcissus bulb tips

Once bulbs have 2″ shoots, you can water them with a 7/1 solution of whiskey, gin or vodka to prevent narcissus from becoming floppy. Another option is to add a stake and tie a ribbon around them – whichever you prefer.

tips to keep your narcissus strong and tall

The roots will push the bulbs up, so choose a deep container {3+ inches} or make your peace that bulbs will show. I personally love seeing a hint of bulb. If the roots peek out, you can simply tuck them back in. Technically you should have a well draining container if using soil and a water tight container, like a vase if you’re using gravel, but since I don’t keep them beyond their bloom, I use whatever fits our decor and have had a lot of success.

Narcissus also make beautiful gifts potted in a mug, bowl, glass jar or planter!

In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I still like to give thoughtful gifts, but can be a bit limited on time.  A potted plant in a personalized mug {as shown from Anthropologie} is easy, beautiful and long after the last bloom, can be enjoyed for a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. These potted paperwhites make the perfect holiday hostess gift.
potted paperwhites | easy holiday hostess gift
potted paperwhites
Simply plant two bulbs in topsoil a couple weeks before you’re ready to give or transplant a purchased plant from your grocer or garden shop.
The blooms last up to 6 weeks, and the thought, forever.
potted paperwhites | easy holiday hostess gift

I hope you enjoyed these tips for growing paperwhite bulbs / narcissus flowers. If you have any tips or just a love of paper whites, I’d love to hear!

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  1. Hi Julie! I really enjoyed this lovely post! I wanted to let you know that I featured one of your photos in my post about winter decorating with paperwhites.

    I love your beautiful blog! Happy winter decorating!