December 5, 2012
Planting Paperwhite Bulbs
Easy Planting Project That Produces Flowers Within 3-6
I highly recommend adding this project to
a Horticultural Therapy (HT) program for groups or one to one. The purpose is to plant paperwhite bulbs and
observe the bulbs as they grow and flower over 3-6 weeks.
Filling pots with soil, planting and watering gives participants the
opportunity to work on their gross/fine motor skills and eye/hand coordination. Learning
about paperwhite bulbs and how to grow them promotes cognitive stimulation. Participants
socially interact with their peers while they help each other with tasks and questions. The
plant material and soil provides sensory stimulation for an overall sense of
After the bulbs are planted, participants are encouraged to observe
the bulbs through out the week and at HT sessions. This involvement promotes curiosity, fascination and
hope; all positive feelings that can help enhance a persons quality of life. A big
sense of accomplishment is a achieved when the paperwhite bulbs flower.
Facts About Paperwhite Bulbs:
Botanical name is Narcissus papyraceus
Common name is Paperwhite
They produce clusters of fragrant small white flowers
The fragrance of these flowers has been described as musky or spicy. I personally enjoy
the smell but some people find them too strong or unpleasant. It's always interesting to see the
participants reaction to the smell of the flowers.
There is a non-fragrant variety called Narcissus papyraceus 'inbal'. I
prefer to use this variety if it is available because some people have sensitivities to
They are a perennial bulbous plant that can be planted outside. I have never seen it
flower a second time outside in the garden.
Doesn't require a cold treatment or chilling period to flower. This makes it very easy
to force into bloom as a houseplant.
Usually available for purchase in November and December
Can be purchased in bulk quantities as loose bulbs or in kits with soil and container
included. I prefer buying them loose because it is usually cheaper and I already have the other
The bulb will die back after it finishes flowering
Instructions For Planting Paperwhite Bulbs:
1. Get participants to take a close look at the bulbs
Look at the colour, shape and texture. They look similar to daffodil bulbs.
Look for any new growth. It's amazing that these plants can start growing without soil
or water. This is because there is enough moisture and nutrients within the bulb.
Notice the firmness of the bulb. It should not be mushy or hallow.
Find the flat bottom. This is where the roots will develop once they are planted and
2. Loosely fill pots with potting soil 1-2 inches from the
3. Place bulbs on top of the soil
4. Add more soil to the container
Firmly press soil around the bulbs
Do not completly cover the bulbs
Place the containers on saucers and water until it drains through the bottom
Keep soil moist; don't allow the soil to dry
5. Place near indirect light to extend the length of
the blooms. The more direct sunlight they receive the faster they grow and flower. The leaves will turn brown and
die back when the plant finishes flowering. Bulbs can then be discarded, or saved and planted outside.