Forcing Paperwhites Indoors
Paperwhites need only 3” of root room so shallow containers work well. Pretty glass or ceramic bowls are ideal. For one-of-a-kind presentations, scout antique stores and estate sales for unusual containers. These make simple, unique gifts.
Plant your paperwhites in soil, pebbles, tumbled beach glass, terra cotta pellets (sold by orchid suppliers) or glass marbles. The planting medium just needs to provide support for the plants and must be suitable for roots to grow through. Because paperwhites are usually discarded or transplanted after flowering, the container’s planting medium doesn’t need to supply nutrients.
Plant the bulbs with their wide bottoms down and the top inch of each bulb above the soil/pebble line. Plant close together, almost touching, for the most floriferous display.
Add water so the soil is moist. If planted in pebbles, chips or marbles, add enough water to come within 3/4” of the top of the pebbles. This will keep the base of the paperwhite bulb moist without soaking the entire bulb. The goal is to have the very bottom of the bulbs just touching the water as this will encourage root growth.
Place the pot or bowl in sunny or very bright location. Lots of light will keep stems from growing too tall and becoming floppy. In a week or two, roots will appear, with top sprouts following shortly thereafter. Bud and blooms develop quickly; it’s fun to watch the daily progress. You’ll be enjoying blooms and fragrance in a few short weeks.