How to Plant Paperwhite Bulbs Both Indoors and Outdoors

1 paperwhites in plastic containers

Paperwhites are the perfect flower for you if you’re a beginner gardener and are looking for low-maintenance, easy to grow plants. Apart from being so easy to look after, they’re also extremely beautiful and fragrant, providing any home and/or garden with a lovely ethereal look. Their name evokes their appearance, which is delicate and overall romantic, from their color to the texture of their blooms.

Today, we’re going to tell you all about planting paperwhite bulbs, both indoors and outdoors. Let’s have a look!

How to Plant Paperwhite Bulbs Indoors

1. Find the Right Container

The great thing about paperwhite bulbs is that they don’t require a lot of room for their roots. Which means that planting them indoors is a piece of cake. You don’t even have to worry about finding deep containers. This makes it especially easy to use prettier ones, such as ceramic bowls or glass vases. Antique looking containers are also a great option, mostly because they’ll contrast with the appearance of the paperwhite flowers.

2. Find the Right Medium

You can choose to plant paperwhite bulbs in many growing mediums, from actual soil, to pebbles, terracotta pellets, tumbled beach glass, or even glass marbles. The reason why you don’t have to rely only on soil is because the planting medium is only there to offer the paperwhite bulbs support, in order for their roots to develop properly. Then, there’s also the fact that after the bulbs flower, you’re either going to have to completely discard or at least transplant the paperwhites. This means that the medium you choose to plant them in doesn’t have to contain any nutrients.

3. Plant the Paperwhite Bulbs

On to actually planting the paperwhite bulbs, you need to place them with the wider side down. Also, make sure that an inch of each bulb is visible above the growing medium. Paperwhites are flowers that thrive when planted close together, so we advise you to place the bulbs in the container so that they almost touch.

4. Water the Bulbs

When it comes to watering, paperwhite bulbs require moist soil. However, if you’re using another growing medium, such as marbles, chips, or pebbles, the way to know when to stop watering is to check when the water comes within ¾ inches of the top of the medium. This way, you won’t soak the entire bulb (which is not recommended), but you’ll still keep its base moist. The reason you want to water just the base of the bulbs is that their roots grow much easier this way.

5. Choose the Location

Location isn’t only important when planting paperwhites outside. It’s also important when growing them indoors. If you want your flowers to look their best, you should keep the container in a place where they can get a lot of sun exposure and brightness. Were you to place them in a darker location, your plants might grow tall stems that can become floppy.

If you can find a sunny location, you’ll be able to track their progress very easily. Because they’re fast growers, they only need about two weeks to develop roots and then grow top sprouts. The bud and blooms will follow shortly, and you’ll be able to enjoy the look and fragrance of your paperwhite flowers in no time.

Just remember that if you live in a place where the summers are extremely hot, dry, and sunny, too much sun exposure can damage your plants. If you want to avoid that, you can move the container to a place where they also get some shade until fall arrives.

6. Transplant the Paperwhite Bulbs

As we’ve already mentioned, after the paperwhite flowers start to wither and die, you’re going to have to transplant them outside if you want to be able to see them flower again. Just take out the paperwhite bulbs carefully, making sure you don’t damage their roots and plant them outside in a sunny place. Then, add plenty of water and some fertilizer.

You might have to wait for a season until they develop flowers again. This is only because they’ve been previously grown in water. As such, they need some time to get accustomed to the new growing medium and the conditions outside.

paperwhite bulbs in a white container

How to Plant Paperwhite Bulbs Outdoors

1. Find the Right Location

Location is one of the most important things you have to consider whenever you’re growing paperwhites outdoors. The main thing you should remember is that paperwhites enjoy well-drained soil. The way to test whether the soil in your garden drains well or not is to check it after a heavy rain. If in 6 hours, the puddles haven’t been absorbed by the soil, then you’re going to need to find another place where this has already happened.

If the soil still doesn’t drain well, there are things you can do to help it, such as adding some organic material (compost, peat moss, decomposed manure, ground bark) over it and raising its level by a couple of inches. The paperwhite bulbs also need sun exposure. So make sure the location you’re going to plant them in gets full sun and brightness.

2. Plant the Bulbs

The first thing you should know about planting paperwhite bulbs is that they’re extremely versatile and resistant. This means that you can plant them from September to December, without worrying that the ground is too cold for them. When planting the bulbs, you have to pay attention for their tips to be 4 inches above the soil. Also, planting them extremely close together is no longer an option. You have to plant 5 bulbs at most per each square foot of land.

3. Water the Bulbs

The trick to settle your paperwhite bulbs and give them a head start is to water them thoroughly immediately after you’ve planted them. They only need a couple of days to start developing roots. Then, the blooms will develop in early spring, or sometimes even late winter. This depends both on the climate of the place you live in and on the paperwhite variety you’ve planted.

4. Use Paperwhites as Cut Flowers

Paperwhite bulbs after blooming make amazing cut flowers, that’s for sure. Thus, it would be a pity not to take advantage of their beauty and intoxicating fragrance and decorate your home with them. Just remember that their sap contains a certain chemical that is damaging to other flowers. Which is why whenever you place paperwhites in a vase, you shouldn’t mix them with other flowers. If you do that, the latter will wilt.

paperwhite flowers bouquet

5. Trim Their Foliage

After the blooms die, you’re going to have to care for them in order to ensure that you’ll get just as gorgeous flowers next year as well. Don’t trim their foliage while it’s still green. Allow it some time to photosynthesize. After it withers, you can remove it. If you were to do that before the photosynthesis, you would get smaller and fewer flowers next year. That’s because they wouldn’t get the same number of nutrients.

6. Winter Care

There are a couple of things that you can do during the winter to make sure your paperwhite bulbs will grow beautiful flowers next season. For instance, fertilizing is extremely important, especially with a fertilizer that is soluble in water. This will provide your plants with plenty of nutrients, that will encourage root development and new growths. Even though fertilizing is not a necessity, it’s an extra thing you can do to get healthier, more beautiful flowers.

How to Plant Paperwhite Bulbs in Containers

The third option you have when it comes to growing paperwhites is to plant the paperwhite bulbs in containers with soil. These containers are perfect both for indoor and outdoor locations. Plus, this way, you won’t have to transplant the bulbs in order to ensure a second flowering season. The soil should be high-quality and able to drain well, so we recommend a special potting medium. Remember that the container you’re going to place them in has to have drainage holes as well.

The bulbs grow perfectly when placed close to each other and about 3 inches deep in the potting medium. The watering routine is similar to that for bulbs that you place in garden beds, and so is the rest of the paperwhite care routine. As long as you keep them healthy, trim their foliage after it withers, and provide them with fertilizer in the winter, you’re going to get amazing flowers every growing season.

Summing It All Up

Growing paperwhites is one of the easiest activities you could engage in as a beginner gardener. Among many other great things about the paperwhite flower, the fact that you can grow it almost anywhere and using any type of growing medium is definitely one of the best. A close second is the way paperwhite flowers look, but also the way they smell. Whether you decide to use them as cut flowers and adorn your home with them or leave them as they are in the garden, they’ll still make for a lovely display that will win you over in no time.

All things above considered, don’t hesitate to start growing paperwhites as soon as possible. If you’re looking for paperwhite bulbs for sale, you can find some on Amazon.

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