Paperwhite Arrangement with Gold Bow
Credit: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Get a group of these paperwhite bulbs started early in the season, and you'll have a go-to reserve of perfectly pretty gifts ready for anyone, anytime—no matter how last minute. They're the perfect holiday flower after all—pretty, but not so overtly Christmas-y that you can't keep 'em around after Dec. 25, and they require very little attention. That part is important in the already jam-packed holiday season. Plus, while you're growing your gifts, you can use them as your own décor. Not a fan of the paperwhite's fragrance? Try milder-smelling selections like "Inbal," "Ariel," and "Nir."

Paperwhite Bulb Care

Pot the bulbs as soon as you can after purchasing them. If you can't plant immediately, store them in a warm, dark place. Never place bulbs in the fridge—it won't necessarily help them bloom. Also, avoid keeping them somewhere too hot or dry—the buds may "blast" and never open.

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How to Plant Paperwhite Bulbs

Paperwhites will grow in soil, gravel, or water. Some selections prefer soil, so be sure to check the label. Set the bulbs in a cool, dark spot until they sprout (about a week or two); then move them to a cool but sunny spot. Regularly rotate the container so the paperwhites will grow evenly toward the sun. Insufficient light can prompt leggy growth, so paperwhites grown in dim rooms may require staking.

Paperwhite Plant Care

Expect to see blooms in four to six weeks. Selections that have yellow flowers or double forms may take a little longer to bloom, so expect a slightly longer timeline with those. Stagger the plantings so you can enjoy fresh flowers all through the season. If your paperwhites start to become too leggy or tall, stunt their growth by watering them with a mixture of 1 part vodka or gin to 7 parts water.