The Q&A Archives: Paperwhites From Seed

Question: I've grown paperwhites in both soil and in pebbles this fall and I want to try to keep them for another round. One pot full has gone to seed. If I plant these seeds will I get a paperwhite bulb? When should I plant them if I do?

Answer: You can grow bulbs from seeds, but most seed-raised bulbs will take between three and five years to reach flowering size. Place your dry seeds in a paper bag and store them in a cool, dark location. Your seeds will germinate within 2-6 weeks of planting. Try time the sowing of the seeds so they will emerge in mid-spring, after the weather has warmed. Use commercial seed starting mix or potting soil to which you've added one part peat and one part fine sand. Sow the seeds on top of the moistened growing medium and barely press in with your hand. (Sprinkle them lightly, leaving one-half inch of space between each seed.) Then cover with a small amount of dry growing medium and then add a layer of almost powdered perlite (to help retain moisture, but still allow for some evaporation). Place the pots outdoors in a shaded spot and keep the soil moist. The seeds should sprout within 2-6 weeks. Bulb seedlings grow best if undisturbed in their pots for two growing seasons. You can apply a half-strength fertilizer every 3 weeks during the second season. You can transplant the seedlings into the garden during their third season.

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