Amaryllis and Paperwhites: Forcing them for Winter Color

By Jan Cashman • Posted on December, 17th 2017

By now, if you were going to plant spring-flowering bulbs in your garden, you have completed that task. But to brighten up the indoors throughout our long winters, many of us like to “force” colorful (red, pink or white) amaryllis and fragrant paperwhite narcissus bulbs.

Amaryllis and paperwhites will not survive outdoors in our climate. Amaryllis are native to the Andes mountains of South America and paperwhite narcissus to the Mediterranean area. Because these non-hardy bulbs are native to warmer climates, they do not need a cool, dormant period before being forced. Both are easy to grow inside and just require a few easy steps.

Amaryllis will take about 8 weeks to bloom after planting.

Paperwhites can be forced in water or planted in soil. They will bloom in 4 to 6 weeks.

In Water:

In Soil:

Both amaryllis and paperwhites will probably need some sort of support or staking—the stems and leaves tend to flop over. You can tie the floppy flower stems to bamboo stakes with twine. Paperwhites will not rebloom after being forced so dispose of them after the flowers are spent. Amaryllis can be made to rebloom but multiple steps, including planting them outside in the summer, are required.

Force these bulbs and turn your home into a flower garden for the long winter months.