Paper Whites

Paper whites are among the popular flowering bulbs of the world – for two apparent reasons, the beauty of flowers and their exclusive fragrance.

paperwhitesPaper Whites (Narcissus tazetta) are one of the smaller flowered Narcissi which belong to the Jonquilla cultivar. Their bright white flowers are quiet fragrant. Paper white Narcissus is the commonly forced bulb, because it is so easy and the flowers are so pretty. It is a member of the daffodil family, but looks much more delicate than the big yellow trumpet daffodils you can see in the spring yards.


A native to Europe and Asia, Paper whites are now grown around the world. Paper whites are smaller in size, compared to other daffodils. Only a few other winter flowers have a more delicious fragrance than the Narcissus papyraceus, more commonly known as the Paper White. A sub-species of the Narcissus tazetta, the clusters of these delicate star-shaped flowers on slender stems lend themselves to beautifully simple arrangements. The scent of Paper whites will permeate the room. Everyone finds the scent pleasing, and most people do, the scent will add to the spring-like atmosphere.

Facts about Paper whites

  • All narcissus have wide flattened, green foliage with the exception of paper whites which are blue-gray.
  • Naturalized paper whites are limited to areas near the coast or other protected microclimates due to their extremely early bloom time which is often between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Paper whites generally do not re-bloom.
  • The most common form encountered is Narcissus tazetta Grand Primo. Its wide spread adaptability is due to the fact that the Grand Primo is the latest blooming narcissus, which is usually between early February and early March.
  • Grand Primo has big bold clusters of powerfully sweet, creamy-white blossoms which make excellent cut as well as dried flowers.
  • Paper whites are the most fragrant of the daffodil family, with a distinctive sweet smell.
  • Paper Whites and Amaryllis can both be easily forced into bloom without any cold treatment, but unlike amaryllis, paper whites cannot be saved to bloom again.

Paper whites are among the most commonly forced and the easiest bulb flowers to be forced besides amaryllis, muscari and hyacinths.

Varieties of Paper white Daffodil flowers

  • Ziva is a reliable strain that is imported from Israel. It produces clusters of pure white blooms with a strong, spicy fragrance on stems averaging 16-18 inches tall. Ziva can take as little as two weeks to bloom.
  • Galilee bears pure white blooms with a lighter, musky scent on stems 12-14 inches tall. It blooms in 3-4 weeks, often having several bloom stems per bulb.
  • Grand Soleil d’Or offers lemon to gold petals around a yellow-orange cup with a delicate sweet fragrance. It grows 12-14 inches tall and blooms in 4-5 weeks.
  • Bethlehem has soft yellow petals with a dark yellow cup and has a musky scent. It grows only 8-10 inches tall and blooms in 3 weeks.
  • Israel bears creamy yellow petals with a dark yellow cup and has a delicate fragrance. It blooms in 3 weeks on 16-20 inch stems.
  • Nazareth has soft yellow petals, a bright yellow cup and a moderately musky fragrance. It grows 10-12 inches and blooms in 3 weeks.
  • Jerusalem offers pure white, large flowers on strong stems with a moderate musky scent. It grows 16-20 inches and blooms in 3 weeks.
  • Chinese Sacred Lily has blooms that are white with yellow. It isn’t as strong as some others and needs support, but the fragrance is wonderful!
  • Double Paper Whites are a wonderful new development. They have a lovely fragrance, too.

Growing Paper white Flowers

  • Paper whites are grown from bulbs.
  • Plant outdoors during fall. Select a sunny spot, although they can tolerate partial shade.
  • The bulb stores all the food it needs for next year’s bloom.
  • Adding a little fertilizer will help the bulb to absorb energy for next year’s bloom.
  • Add mulch around the bed to make it more attractive, and to keep the weeds down.
  • Paper whites looks attractive when planted in bunches.

Paper white plant care

  • Paper whites need well drained soil mix.
  • Paper whites need an average humidity with a temperature range of 50 – 60 degrees F during days and 45 – 55 degrees during nights.
  • Fertilizer is not necessary during the bloom season.
  • Check for insects. Avoid plants with disease or insect damage.
  • Do not let plant sit in water.