Paperwhite Narcissus papyraceus

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


The plant commonly known as Paperwhite is characterized by its delicate, star-shaped white flowers that bloom in clusters atop slender green stems. The flowers emanate a sweet, powerful fragrance that is especially noticeable in enclosed spaces. Each blossom displays a central cup surrounded by six petal-like segments, giving it a daffodil-like appearance, which is not surprising as it is a member of the daffodil family. The leaves of the Paperwhite are long, slender, and a deep shade of green, providing a contrasting backdrop to the bright whiteness of the flowers. This plant typically blooms in the cooler months and is often forced to bloom indoors during the winter for its aesthetic and fragrant appeal.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Paperwhite, Paperwhite Narcissus

    • Common names

      Narcissus tazetta var. papyraceus, Narcissus papyraceus var. papyraceus, Narcissus panizzianus, Narcissus polyanthus, Ajax papyraceus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Paperwhite, a common name for Narcissus papyraceus, is considered toxic to humans. The entire plant contains lycorine and other alkaloids, particularly concentrated in the bulb. If ingested, it can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In severe cases, ingestion can lead to more serious effects like tremors, low blood pressure, drowsiness, and even in extreme circumstances, convulsions. It is important for humans to avoid ingesting any part of the paperwhite.

    • To pets

      Paperwhite, the common name for Narcissus papyraceus, is toxic to pets as well as humans. The plant contains lycorine and other compounds toxic to animals if ingested, especially concentrated in the bulb. Poisoning symptoms in pets can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and in severe cases, cardiac arrhythmias, low blood pressure, tremors, or even seizures. It is strongly advisable to prevent pets from ingesting any part of the paperwhite plant.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-1.5 feet (30-45 cm)

    • Spread

      0.5-1 feet (15-30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal: Narcissus papyraceus, commonly known as Paperwhite, provides ornamental value with its attractive, fragrant white flowers that can brighten up gardens and indoor spaces.
    • Easy to Grow: Paperwhites are easy to cultivate and can be forced to bloom indoors during winter months, providing a sense of greenery and nature even in cold climates.
    • Symbolism: In various cultures, Paperwhites symbolize hope and the coming of spring, often used in festivities and as gifts to convey positive sentiments.
    • Bulb Division: The bulbs of Narcissus papyraceus naturally divide, which allows gardeners to propagate the plant easily and share with others, making it an economical choice for expanding a garden.
    • Ecosystem Support: Paperwhites can provide nectar to bees and other pollinators during the flowering season, supporting local ecosystems and biodiversity.
    • Decorative Arrangements: The flowers of Narcissus papyraceus are commonly used in floral arrangements and bouquets due to their pleasing appearance and scent.
    • Seasonal Interest: Their winter bloom time adds interest to the garden during a season when few other plants flower, offering a unique contribution to a year-round planting scheme.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Analgesic: Traditionally used to provide relief from pain.
    • Emetic: Used in the past as an agent that induces vomiting.
    • Wound healing: Applied externally in traditional remedies to heal wounds.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • The common name of Narcissus papyraceus is "Paperwhite." The plant's stems can be used in basket weaving, providing a natural and aromatic material.
    • Paperwhites can be floated in shallow bowls of water as a unique and fragrant table centerpiece.
    • The pressed flowers of Paperwhites can be used for creating botanical prints or for adorning handmade paper, giving it a delicate and decorative touch.
    • The spent blooms can be collected and added to potpourri mixes for their fragrance.
    • In some cultures, Paperwhites are used in festivals and religious ceremonies as symbols of purity and awakening.
    • The bulbs of Paperwhites can be forced in winter to bloom indoors, offering a touch of spring during the colder months.
    • The plant can be used educationally in botany classes to demonstrate geotropism and phototropism, as the stems and leaves grow towards light and gravity.
    • Dried Paperwhite flowers can be incorporated into natural dye processes, though they may produce subtle coloration.
    • The strong scent of Paperwhite flowers can be used to naturally scent drawers and closets when dried flowers are placed in sachets.
    • In landscape design, Paperwhites are planted in masse to create sweeping drifts of white, often in contrast with evergreen foliage or other winter-blooming plants.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Paperwhite, commonly known as Narcissus papyraceus, is associated with good fortune and is believed to bring positive energy into the home when placed in the living area or at the entrance.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Paperwhite is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Rebirth and New Beginnings: As one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, Narcissus papyraceus, commonly known as Paperwhite, is often associated with rebirth and new beginnings.
    • Self-love: The name "Narcissus" is linked to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. Hence, the flower symbolizes self-love and self-admiration.
    • Vanity: Following the story of Narcissus, this plant can also denote vanity and excessive self-absorption.
    • Hopes and Dreams: The Paperwhite's vibrant growth even in the winter denotes holding on to one's hopes and dreams despite adversity.
    • Prosperity: In some cultures, Paperwhites are associated with good fortune and wealth, particularly when given as gifts during special occasions, like the Lunar New Year.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 1-2 years
Late winter-early spring
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    Paperwhites, the common name for Narcissus papyraceus, should be watered thoroughly whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. During their active growth, you can anticipate watering them every few days, but be cautious not to overwater as this can lead to bulb rot. Typically, you might provide approximately 16-24 ounces of water per plant during each watering session, varying with the size of the pot and the environmental conditions. During periods of dormancy after blooming, reduce watering significantly, allowing the soil to remain dry for longer periods. The goal is to mimic the natural wet and dry cycles the plant would experience in its native Mediterranean habitat.

  • sunLight

    Paperwhites thrive in bright, indirect light, making a spot near a sunny window that receives partial shade ideal for these plants. Avoid placing them in direct, harsh sunlight, especially during the hotter parts of the day, as this can damage the foliage and flowers. Eastern or northern exposures are often best, offering the gentle light these bulbs prefer for optimal growth and flowering.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Paperwhites enjoy moderate temperature conditions typically between 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes them ideal for most indoor environments. They can withstand short periods of slightly higher temperatures up to the low 70s, but consistently high temperatures can impede their development. Protect the bulbs from freezing temperatures, making sure they are not exposed to temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent damage to the bulb.

  • scissorsPruning

    Paperwhites require minimal pruning, mainly focused on removing spent flowers to maintain appearance and prevent the plant from wasting energy on seed production. Typically, you should trim off the dead flower heads once the flowers have faded. During or after the blooming season, remove any yellowed or dead leaves. Pruning is not usually necessary for the plant's health but rather for aesthetic reasons.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Paperwhites, the common name for Narcissus papyraceus, thrive in a well-draining soil mix with added sand or perlite for increased drainage. A soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is ideal. A mix of one part potting soil, one part coarse sand, and a sprinkle of bone meal to provide phosphorus is excellent for their growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Paperwhites generally do not require frequent repotting and can be done every 3-5 years or when the bulbs become overcrowded. After flowering, when the foliage starts to die back, is the best time to repot.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Paperwhites prefer average home humidity levels, between 40% to 60%. They do not require high humidity and can adapt to the typical indoor environment without the need for additional humidity measures.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light with cool temperatures indoors.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade; well-drained soil; water sparingly.

    • Hardiness zone

      8-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Narcissus papyraceus, commonly known as Paperwhite, begins its life as a bulb, which remains dormant underground during the summer. In the fall, environmental cues such as cooler temperatures and moisture trigger the bulb to develop roots and send up shoots. By late fall or early winter, the plant grows stems and strap-shaped leaves, followed by the development of clusters of fragrant, white flowers. After flowering, typically in late winter or early spring, the plant sets seed and the foliage begins to yellow and wither as the plant enters a period of senescence. The seeds disperse when the capsules split, potentially leading to new plants if they find a suitable growing environment. Finally, the plant returns to a dormant state, with the bulb storing energy for the next growing season.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Late winter-early spring

    • Propogation: Paperwhite Narcissus, which is a common name for Narcissus papyraceus, can be easily propagated by separating and planting the offsets or daughter bulbs that form around the base of the mother bulb. The best time to propagate paperwhites is when they are dormant, generally in late summer to early fall. To propagate by offsets, dig up the bulbs after the foliage has died back and gently separate the smaller offsets from the parent bulb. Plant these offsets about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) apart and 5 to 6 inches (about 13 to 15 cm) deep, ensuring that the pointed end is facing upwards. Over time, these offsets will develop into mature bulbs and produce their own flowers, typically within one to two growing seasons.