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Forcing Paperwhite Daffodils for Indoor Winter Flowering

Unlike other narcissus, Paperwhites don't require a chilling period, so forcing them to flower early is as easy as putting the bulbs in water and waiting. The fragrant flowers bloom within a few weeks of planting. 

Things You'll Need:

  • Paperwhite bulbs
  • A bowl or pot with no drainage holes
  • Pebbles

Clean the bowl and the pebbles.

Use 4-5 bulbs in a 15cm dish or 7 in a 20cm dish

Fill the bowl with the pebbles to about 2/3rds way from the top. Position the bulbs so that they are tightly packed. Bulbs can touch both each other and the sides of thebowl. This provides support for the growing plants and creates a compact arrangement. Nestle bulbs into the pebbles pointed end up and scatter more pebbles around the bottom 1/3 of the bulbs. If possible leave 3-5 cm at the top of the bowl – this will help support the foliage later on.

Fill the bowl up with water to the point where the water just barely comes into contact with bottoms of the bulbs. This will prompt the bulb to send out roots that will seek out the water among the pebbles. Make sure the bulbs are never submerged with water. As they bloom, you will of course have to add more water.

For the first few days keep the bowl in a cool, dark place until green shoots appear- typically within two weeks. Check often and keep the water level so that it barely touches the base of the bulbs.

Move the bulbs to a brightly lit window or sunny area. Monitor the growth – if it becomes tall and spindly, move to more light.

Blooms appear 4 to 6 weeks after forcing and last for two weeks or more. Once your paperwhites start blooming move them to a cool location out of direct sunlight to prolong the blooms. Enjoy! Your plants will bloom for around two weeks and give a sweet, fragrant aroma to any room. After flowering plant out in the garden.

Try this "Paperwhite Cocktail" to keep the stems shorter. Water normally with tap water until roots start to develop (usually you will notice the bulbs starting to push themselves up when roots are growing) then switch to this mixture: 1 part inexpensive gin to 7 parts of water. It's that simple! Why does this work? Researchers at Cornell University suspect that the result may be as simple as "water stress", meaning that alcohol makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water. A slight reduction in water intake is enough to retard stem and leaf growth, but not sufficient to affect flowering.