We are having our first snow of the season today and its’ just beautiful outside and it’s making me even more anxious for Christmas! I’ve been busy decking the halls and am so excited to share everything with you! I love to force bulbs indoors this time of year! It’s so amazing that by planting a bulb (that looks like a peeling onion) in some gravel and 3 – 6 weeks later we have glorious clusters of white flowers on long green stems! I’ve also forced amarylis bulbs, but forcing paperwhites for Christmas is my favorite! So, here are my tips for forcing paperwhites.
*This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Please see my full disclosure HERE.
Forcing Paperwhites for Christmas
- Paperwhites bloom 3 – 6 weeks after planting. So, plan accordingly. I want mine to be blooming in time for my Christmas home tour the first week of December. I maybe should have planted them a week earlier – time will tell.
- I like to use gravel to “plant my paperwhite” bulbs. And, by plant, I mean nestle the bottom of each bulb into the gravel. You just want the roots of the bulb to have contact with water and the gravel will help hold the bulb in place. You can also plant in a potting soil or sand, but I prefer a white stone gravel because it looks pretty! Here’s what I used.
- I planted my paperwhites in a glass pie plate. A pie plate is the perfect depth for planting paperwhites because you only need about 2 inches of gravel or planting medium. I wanted to use this vintage silver tureen(seen below) for the paperwhites, so I turned a soup bowl upside down in the bottom of the tureen and then sat the glass pie plate on top of it. The bowl elevated the pie plate to just under the rim of the tureen and it looks like my tureen is filled with soil/gravel! But, it’s just an illusion!
- When you arrange the bulbs in the gravel, make sure that the shoots are pointing inward. This helps them to grow straight up together and the stems will support one another when they get taller!
- Turn your container every few days so the growth doesn’t stretch towards the sun source!
- After about one week, pour off any water and mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 11 parts water and use this mixture to water the bulbs. This solution stunts the growth of the green stems so the paperwhites don’t get too leggy! I just learned this tip and can’t wait to give it a try!!! From what I read, the paperwhites still get tall, just not so tall that they need to be staked and tied up!
- Don’t like the smell of the traditional paperwhite varieties, try one of these varieties: Wintersun: Nearly fragrance free!!! Inball: Same paperwhite scent, just less of it!
- Keep the roots in water. But, don’t get the whole bulb in water or it will rot!
- For lasting blooms, keep your house temp at around 65 degrees. Like most flowers, paperwhites last longer in a cooler environment.
Forcing paperwhites is really easy! It’s something that I did when Mark and I were first married and had no clue what I was doing! I’ve never had them NOT bloom!!! You can find paperwhite bulbs right now at discount stores, home improvement stores, your local garden shops, and even the grocery store! And, they aren’t expensive! So, go out and get yourself some paperwhite bulbs to force for Christmas! Plant them today or wait another week, but you do want to get them started soon to have those beautiful white blooms in time for Christmas!