Narcissus is the genus name for all daffodil species, but only the paperwhite narcissus bulb species of daffodils does well when grown indoors. This is because it does not require a long period of cold or darkness, grows and blooms in five to eight weeks and tolerates the temperature and conditions of indoor cultivation. Growing paperwhite narcissus indoors will brighten up cold winter days and fill a room with subtle fragrance.
Planting in Pebbles, Gravel or Marbles
Select a wide, shallow bowl with no drainage hole and cover the bottom with a layer of washed pebbles, gravel or crushed marbles. Place the paperwhite bulbs on top of this layer, with the pointed end up. You can place bulbs as close to each other as you want. Add more pebbles, gravel or crushed marbles to the bowl, surrounding the bulbs until only the tops of the bulbs are visible. Add water to the bowl so the water level is at the bottom of the bulbs. The water should be at kept at this level throughout the paperwhite's growth.
Place the bowl and bulbs in a cool (10.0 to 12.7 degrees C), dark place for one to two weeks to allow the roots to grow, then bring themto a well lit spot that remains at 21.1 to 23.8 degrees C. Monitor the water level and within a few weeks you will see long stemmed flowers.
Planting in Soil
Planting paperwhite bulbs in soil is similar to planting in pebbles. The container should be 6 to 8 inches wide and have a drainage hole. There is no need to put drainage rocks in the bottom, simply fill the container two-thirds full with a good potting soil and water the soil until it is uniformly moist: Dry pockets of soil will hamper the bulbs development. Place the bulbs on top of the soil, pointed end up. Add more potting soil until only the tips of the bulbs are exposed. Water this soil. Put the planted pot in a cool dark place for ten to fourteen days, then set the pot in a sunny, well lit, warm spot. Your paperwhite narcissus bulbs should bloom in five to eight weeks.
Planting in Water
You can plant paperwhite narcissus bulbs in a tall, clear vase with water. Put a shallow layer of planting medium, either pebbles, gravel, crushed marbles or potting soil in the bottom of the vase. Place the bulbs on top of this. The planting medium will keep the bulbs in place and help keep the bulbs from getting too much water. Add water until the water reaches the base of the bulbs. You can either put the vase in a cool dark place for four or five days before setting it in a bright, sunny location, or place the vase directly in a bright spot to start growing. Monitor the water level to avoid letting the bulbs dry out.
The stems of paperwhite narcissus can grow to twelve to fourteen inches tall. They're topped by clusters of white or yellow flowers and frequently get top heavy and need extra support. As the stems and flowers develop, you may need to stake the stems with slender, inconspicuous stakes. This is not needed when growing the bulbs in water and a tall vase, since the vase provides support.
Paperwhite narcissus bulbs are not as hardy as other species of daffodils and do not do well if saved and used the next blooming season. Paperwhite bulbs are inexpensive and easily available---after the bulbs have bloomed they should be discarded.