Paperwhite Narcissus

Paperwhites are members of the daffodil family, believe it or not. They’re native to the Mediterranean, however, so we can’t grow them in our yards. They do force easily and quickly inside, though. All you need are a few pebbles and a watertight container. You can get inventive and use almost any container that will hold water. A ceramic coffee mug with a paperwhite growing in it can make an attractive and affordable gift, as can a pretty glass bowl with three or five bulbs.

Run With It

In place of pebbles, you can get inventive and use colored aquarium gravel or glass “beads” you can find at a craft store. As long as the bulbs have something to anchor them in the container, it doesn’t matter. A clear glass bowl with red and green glass beads would be Christmas-y!

Half the fun of getting a gift that grows is watching that gift grow. For gifts, I plant paperwhites no more than a day or two ahead of time. Sometimes I don’t even pot them up. I’ll give the bulbs, a container, and a bag of decorative pebbles as a “kit” and let the gift recipient pot everything together themselves. Kids especially love that.

How to Grow Paperwhites

To grow paperwhites successfully, choose a container at least three or more inches deep. Place pebbles, glass beads, etc., in the bottom of the container and arrange the bulbs on top. Cover the bulbs just to the tip, but not over it. Add water until it just touches the bottom of the bulbs.

A sunny window during the day and a cooler place at night will keep the flower stems sturdy.

To keep them much shorter, about 10 days after planting, replace the water in the container with a solution of one part vodka or gin with seven parts water or one part isopropyl rubbing alcohol with ten parts water. Do not use beer or wine as the sugar content can damage the bulbs.

Get Your Paperwhites Now

When selecting paperwhites to give as gifts, remember to pick up a few to brighten up for your own home. We deserve some fun, too!

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