Amaryllis & Paperwhite Narcissus

Amaryllis & Paperwhite Narcissus

I love the indoor winter bulbs. At the time of year when the days are getting shorter, it lifts my spirits to be able to plant something inside that I know will be coming into bloom soon. And both Amaryllis and paperwhite Narcissus bulbs are easy to grow indoors.

You don’t have to have soil to grow paperwhites. You can put them in a shallow dish, flower pot or vase with a layer of rocks or pebbles and keep the container filled with water that just covers the base of the bulbs. Because the stems grow tall and the flowers can be a bit heavy when they bloom, you’ll need a way to stake or support them once they are flowering. One way is to make a creative grapevine cage for your bulbs.  An easier way is to plant your bulbs in the bottom of a tall, clear glass vase.

Amaryllis can also be forced in pebbles and water in the same manner, but when they are grown that way you won’t be able to save them from year to year. Growing these large bulbs in water will deplete the energy in the bulbs. When planted in soil, however, the bulbs can continue to grow leaves and roots beyond their flowering period and you can enjoy them for many years to come.

We’re all familiar with the large, red Amaryllis flowers, which are beautiful. But there are other colors and sizes of Amaryllis blooms that are also spectacular, so if red isn’t your color, be sure to look for some of the other varieties.

Love pink and burgundy? Have we got an Amaryllis for you...

Love pink and burgundy? Have we got an Amaryllis for you…

Plant your amaryllis bulbs in a clay pot that has a drainage hole. Use a good quality potting soil and only cover the bottom quarter to a third of the bulb. Place the potted bulb in a warm, sunny window and prepare to be amazed as it grows.

Note: don’t keep these bulbs too wet. Water the soil well when you do water, but let it dry a bit before watering again and don’t let the pot sit in standing water. When Amaryllis bulbs are kept too wet they will rot.

If you have Amaryllis bulbs from previous years and need to repot them, read all about that process here.



  1. judywass on November 10, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Thanks for the info
    Just bought paper whites and will use them as gifts for my shut-ins
    Keeping them in the car so they won’t start blooming too fast
    If it gets below freezing will they be ok in the car?
    Do not have a shed

    • CLFornari on November 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Judy – No, you don’t want them to freeze although if the temps just dip below 32 at night it’s unlikely to get that cold in the car. Do you have an unheated garage or bulkhead? That’s an alternative…

  2. Susan Hamel on November 10, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    If you are going to force an amaryllis bulb in water, how deep should the pebbles be around the amaryllis bulb and much water should you have in the vase?

    • CLFornari on November 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Susan, You’d have at least 3″ of pebbles in the container with the bulb sitting on the top so that only the bottom of the bulb touches the pebbles. Fill the container with water so that the H2O just covers the pebbles and keep it at that level. That way the bulb won’t rot but the roots will be kept moist.

  3. Nancy Hunter-Young on November 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I received an Amaryllis bulb from a friend that came with a packet of peat that gets rehydrated. I usually just pot mine up each year, using potting soil and some organic fertilizer. Should I do the same with this one, and just mix the peat in with the potting soil?

    • CLFornari on November 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      So glad you asked, Nancy! Use the potting soil – peat is harder to water and keep moisture levels right. Toss the peat into your garden or compost.

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