Planting Paperwhite Bulbs Indoors: A Kid-Friendly Winter Activity with a Taste of Spring


Winter days are short, and the addition of rain and snow can keep us inside more than we’d like. A fun way to add a little Springtime cheer during the colder months is to plant Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs. This is a simple activity with which even the youngest kids can assist. I found Paperwhite bulbs at the local hardware store/nursery, and you can also order bulbs and planting kits online.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs

2. Vase or container (without drainage holes)

3. Pebbles

4. Water

Planting the bulbs:

1. Fill your vase about three quarters full with pebbles and rocks of various sizes. We went on a walk and gathered some stones from around the neighborhood park. You could also use pea gravel or marbles.

2. Place the Paperwhite bulbs on top of the stones. Nestle them into the first layer of pebbles, but keep the tops exposed. Move the rocks in between and around the bulbs to keep them well anchored but not covered.

3. Add water to the vase until it just reaches the bottom of the bulbs, but no higher.

4. Keep the bulbs in a cooler area with indirect sunlight for about a week. Then, move them to a warmer spot that gets more direct sunlight. Rotate the vase as needed to encourage stalks to grow straight.

After a couple weeks, you will have lovely, fragrant blossoms and a small taste of Spring in your home!

My kids enjoyed the hands-on process of filling the vase with stones and placing the bulbs on top. They love to check our plants’ progress each morning! Older kids might enjoy experimenting with different locations or planting media to see what the bulbs prefer. Even if you do not have a green thumb (my own thumb is more like the Grim Reaper when it comes to plants), Paperwhite Narcissus plants are easy to grow. Some stores even sell little kits with bulbs, a pot, and growing medium to make it simple.

A book that we enjoyed reading before planting our bulbs is Paperwhite by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. This book not only shows the life cycle of a Paperwhite, but shares the sweet story of two neighbors and their friendship. We found it at our local library in Fairfax County, and it is also available online at several book retailers.

Happy planting!

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