Are Paperwhites Perennials or Annuals?

Paperwhites have beautiful blue-green leaves, bright white petals, and a tangy fragrance. Perhaps you plan to plant paperwhites and wonder if they are perennials or annuals? We researched this topic, and here is the answer we found.

Paperwhites are known as bulbous perennials. You can keep them indoors during winter, and the blooms return between spring and summer.

Would you like to learn how to care for and grow paperwhites? Are they easy to maintain? Continue reading the article as we dive more into the topic.

What Are Paperwhite Flowers?

Paperwhites are considered perennials and indoor plants. These flowers are Mediterranean natives and are usually planted indoors during cold seasons.

Their beautiful white flowers add aesthetic to the garden in early spring and delicately warm the house in winter—a picturesque indoor winter bloomer.

Paperwhites are low-maintenance plants and, thus, easy to grow. These plants need little water to bloom and are winter-hardy when planted outdoors in zone 8 to 11.

How Long Before Paperwhite Blooms?

fragrant paperwhite narcissus plants full bloom, Are Paperwhites Perennials Or Annuals?

The time that paperwhites take to bloom depends on environmental conditions and the time that the bulbs stay in storage.

Bulbs kept in storage for months bloom quickly, while those kept for a shorter period take a little longer to flower.

Paperwhite bulbs also sprout quickly if the temperature is warmer. So, bulbs planted in October take six to eight weeks to bloom, while those planted in February only need four weeks.

If the bulbs have no contact with water or are starved of light, they germinate slowly. 

Paperwhites blooms last for about two to three weeks, and the foliages last for a few more weeks.

Should You Cut Paperwhites Ater Blooming To Save Them?

Cut off some old flowers after blooming to prevent draining the plant's energy and save the plant for the next year. Keep the plant in pots under the sun to let the foliage die. You can easily pull out any leaves that turn yellow.

You can also save the bulbs after the blooming season. Dig the bulbs once the foliage dies, wash them well in running water, and let them dry for at least a week before replanting.

After replanting the bulbs in a container, add a little bulb fertilizer and leave it for six weeks.

Once the winter arrives, store the plant in a warmer place, such as a basement or garage, to keep it alive until the next blooming season and ready for replanting in the garden.

Paperwhites will rebloom for two more years.

How To Grow Paperwhites From Bulbs?

forcing paperwhite narcissus bulb flowers water

Paperwhites are fragrant flower bulbs. You can plant these beautiful bulbs in fall or winter outdoors in frost-free regions. You can also grow paperwhites indoors in a container with pebbles or a pot with soil mix.

How To Grow Paperwhites In A Vase With Pebbles

Here are the steps to grow paperwhites in pebbles:

Pick A Bulb

Choose a paperwhite variety you wish to grow and get their bulbs. The bigger the bulb you plant, the more stems of flowers they will produce.

You can get these bulbs from greenhouses at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep this temperature in mind when placing your paperwhites in your house later.

Choose A Container

You can pick a clear container or glass and fill it with pebbles with 3 to 4 inches grade. The container must be wide enough to plant a few bulbs in it.

Nestle The Bulb

Nestle the paperwhite bulbs in the pebbles, pointed ends facing up. Push down a little bit to secure them. Once the paperwhite roots grow, they push the bulbs out of the pebbles or soil. So, push the bulbs back down.


Fill the glass below the bulb base while keeping the bulbs from touching the water - bulbs can sense water even without touching it. If the bulbs are nestled in water, they will rot.

How To Grow Paperwhites In Potting Soil

Here are the steps to grow paperwhites in potting soil:


Prepare a container filled with pre-moist potting soil. You can choose a wider container so you can plant multiple bulbs together.

Plant The Bulbs

Stick about 2/3 of the bulbs into the soil. You can plant the bulbs closely together - it is ok for the bulbs to touch each other.


Fill in more pre-moist potting soil, almost covering the bulbs. Leave the top parts of the bulbs exposed to the surface. Then, topdress the container with moss and pine cones.


Water the soil and keep it evenly hydrated, but avoid overwatering. We don't want the bulbs swimming in the water to avoid root rot.

Keep In The Dark

Place the container in the dark at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for about seven to ten days to let the roots grow without the shoots sprouting; this establishes the root system and prevents falling over.

Why Do Paperwhites Fall Over?

There are several reasons why paperwhites may fall over when they grow:

  • The plant did not have enough time to develop a strong rooting system.
  • The paperwhites did not get enough light.
  • The plants were grown in too-warm temperatures.

Can You Water Paperwhites With Alcohol?

narcissus paperwhite ziva blooms garden autumn

You can use a diluted alcohol mixture to water paperwhites until they start to bloom. But it is best to water them with alcohol once they are at least three to four inches tall.

An ideal water-alcohol mixture is diluting one part of 40% vodka or gin into seven parts of water.

What Diseases Affect Paperwhites?

Listed below are the most common diseases that affect paperwhites:

Basal Rot

The fungus fusarium causes basal rot. This disease can develop during the storage or shipping of bulbs. You will know if the bulbs have basal rot if you see a mushy and brown texture instead of being firm and white.

Purchase bulbs through the nursery and choose pale bulbs that are firm to the touch.

Leggy Stems

Leggy stems happen when paperwhites grow wobbly and long, causing them to fall over. This disease is caused by forcing it to bloom.

Avoid placing the plant at too warm a temperature that will cause legginess.

Maintain the water level and avoid flooding the container. Place the plant in a dark place with a room temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the paperwhites in a spot with sunlight once the shoots grow.

Weak Growth

Paperwhites that do not receive enough light will grow spindly and weak. Place the plant in a bright location or a low artificial light.

What Are The Best Fertilizers For Paperwhite Bulbs?

collection galanthus snowdrops local park species

Listed below are the best fertilizers for paperwhite bulbs:

Jobe's Organics Granular Fertilizer

This organic fertilizer is best for tulips, lilies, daffodils, and other bulb flowers. It helps in improving soil conditions during the growing season.

Click here to check organic granular fertilizer on Amazon.

Espoma Organic Bulb Fertilizer

Espoma Organic Bulb Fertilizer is suited for all spring bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus, gladioli, and lilies. It is made from organic and natural ingredients, is safe for the environment, and has no added toxic ingredients.

Click here to check bulb fertilizer on Amazon.

Voluntary Purchasing Group Fertilome Bulb Food

This bulb food provides the necessary nutrients for proper growth and root development. Best suited to use with all spring and fall flowering bulbs.

Click here to check fertilome bulb food on Amazon.

Down To Earth Natural FLower Bulb Fertilizer

If you are looking for a natural fertilizer that provides ample NPK for growth, beautiful blooms, and health, Down To Earth Natural Bulb Fertilizer works best for your paperwhites.

This fertilizer is ideal for onions, garlic, roses, vegetable gardens, containers, flower beds, and perennials. This product is listed in Organic Materials Review Institute or OMRI for organic production.

Click here to check natural bulb fertilizer on Amazon.

Dr. Earth Organic Bulb Fertilizer

Dr. Earth Organic Bulb Fertilizer is 100% organic and is human and pet safe. This fertilizer has a pH level of 6.5. It loosens and helps improve the soil condition and structure.

Click here to check Dr. Earth on Amazon.

Lilly Miller Bulb And Bloom Food

This bulb and bloom food contains a combination of potassium and phosphorus with slow-release feeding formula, providing bright and vigorous blooms to bulbs.

Click here to check bulb and bloom food on Amazon.

Pennington Ultragreen Blooms And Bulb Plant Food

Pennington bulb food provides the nutritional foundation for dependable blooms and vigorous growth.

This plant food has 2% iron for a rich, vibrant color. It contains a 15-10-10 NPK ratio.

Click here to check bulb plant food n Amazon.


fragrant paperwhite narcissus plants full bloom

Paperwhites are perennials and will grow back if given proper care. We discussed how to grow these plants and provided their necessary needs to prolong their lifespan.

You may view these posts for more gardening tips you may need in the future:

How To Overwinter Paperwhites

7 Fragrant Indoor Plants That Thrive in Low Light

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