How to Force Paperwhites
Chase away the winter blues with green. Growing paperwhite bulbs indoors is a simple, inexpensive way to gain a jump start on Mother Nature.
Thumbs of any hue can handle paperwhites, says Mattie Berbee of Berbee’s Best bulb company in Marysville, Ohio.
Buy Bulbs cost $1–$2 and often go on sale after Christmas. Shop garden centers or online sources like Berbee’s Best or Wisconsin’s Holland Bulb Farms. Try varieties like the popular white ‘Ziva’, low-fragrance ‘Inbal’ or yellow ‘Grand Soleil d’Or’.
Plant Put a 2-inch layer of small stones, glass pebbles or aquarium gravel in a tall glass vase, canning jar or crystal bowl. Nestle in the bulbs (about 3/4 inch apart, tips up). Plan for three to five bulbs for a 6-inch diameter vase. Add a few more pebbles to anchor bulbs. (You can skip putting pebbles at the bottom of the vase or jar with a purpose-made bulb-forcing vessel that holds bulbs above water.)
Water Add water to reach bulbs’ base, no higher. (Submerged bulbs will rot.) Replenish as needed.
Grow Place in a bright, 60- to 70-degree spot. Bulbs will endure lower light, but stems may grow leggy if they have to stretch to catch rays. Look for roots in two to three weeks and flowers in four to six.
Maintain Paperwhites can get top-heavy and flop. If needed, tie stems together with jute. Toss or compost bulbs after blooming; they’re too sensitive to survive outdoors in the Midwest.