Growing Snowy Paperwhites


Snow is gently falling outside our windows here on the farm in southwest Iowa. It started last night around dinner and seems to be still going strong here this afternoon. When you have really large windows in your house the difference between a brown view and a white view is huge. It’s so bright outside right now.

What better topic to share today than how to grow snowy paperwhite bulbs. I’ve grown these about this time for years, purchasing bulbs on sale or receiving them as Christmas gifts. Here is a bin of paperwhites at Mulhalls for 99 cents each.


How to Grow Paperwhite Bulbs
When you are ready to grow your paperwhite bulb, follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove from packaging and determine if you are going to use the soil packs they come with or plant in a vase with only water. They don’t actually need soil as they all have the nutrients they need within their bulb.
  2. If you chose to plant with a soil pack:
    1. Wet the soil pack with warm water and let it sit still (I put mine in the sink) until the soil expands to full size. You may need to add more water if it doesn’t expand fully on the first try.
    2. Begin to place the moist soil in your pot or container, stacking soil around the outside.
    3. Place the bulb in the soil with the pointed end up and continue to fill the pot with more soil. Only cover the bulb up to its neck, leaving the growing tip exposed.
    4. Water the bulbs in thoroughly.
  3. If you chose to plant in a soilless vase:
    1. Place rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the vase.
    2. Place the bulb pointed side up on the rocks and surround with a few more pebbles to keep them in place.
    3. Water up to the base of the bulb.



Planting paperwhites without soil in a vase.


A single white paperwhite bulb blooming in a tall bud vase at Mulhalls.


I just adore all of the bud vases that Mulhall’s had on display this year. I’m not sure if they are still available as I took these photos a few weeks ago.

Where to Buy Bud Vases for Paperwhites
I thought I would try to find some additional resources for purchasing vases like these. I could only find this set of five vases but they seem pretty expensive at $69.99 on Amazon. I think this might be something best to purchase locally. Call around to your favorite garden centers or florists to see if they have any in stock.


“When Paperwhites are forced to bloom indoors, they have a tendency to topple when in flower. Hold them upright with the bulb supports supplied with our bulb kits or with bamboo stakes and twine (available at garden centers). If you use our supports, set them in place when the bulb shoots are 8-10″ tall by inserting the legs at regular intervals along the inside edge of the container. As the leaves and stems grow, a few will find their way outside the ring. Gently bend them and push them back inside.” – White Flower Farm

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Where to Purchase Bulb Stakes for Paperwhites
I found these brass bulb stakes at Gardener’s Supply but I also think they would be fairly easy to make yourself using some thin metal.

The Secret to Growing Short Paperwhites

“To prevent your paperwhites from getting tall and floppy, give them a good stiff drink. Paperwhite bulbs grown in water with a 5% concentration of alcohol bloom beautifully on stems 1/3 shorter than paperwhites grown in unspiked water. Most clear liquors are about 40% alcohol (80 proof), so that works out to 1 part liquor to 7 parts water.” – Miracle Grow

My Amaryllis and Paperwhite Bulbs
I’ve already written a blog about forcing Amaryllis bulbs indoors, check that post out here along with the update post here. This year I started an amaryllis and three paperwhites in their soil packs just over a week ago. These pots from Bloom Works Floral in Council Bluffs are adorable!


Do you have paperwhites growing in your house right now? Comment below!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Jane. says:

    Oooh pretty on a snowy day! I do like your bulb vases and pot suggestions. Thanks for sharing good information from several sources. Today we are planting amaryllis. I think the paper whites are beautiful. But don’t you think they smell like dirty socks?! Ha.


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