Can You Plant Your Holiday Paperwhites Outside?

These beautiful bulbs look lovely at Christmas, but how will they fare outdoors?

December 18, 2015

"Paperwhites are a type of daffodil that belong to the Mediterranean group Narcissus tazetta," explains Jason A. Delaney, senior outdoor horticulturist at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. "They need much the same treatment as their wild ancestors: hot, dry summers when the plant is dormant, and very mild conditions with ample moisture the rest of the time." 

Related: 3 Modern Alternatives To Poinsettias


"Paperwhites perform best in the Deep South through Texas, the Southwest, and southern California," Delaney says. In frost-free areas, plant the bulbs immediately after flowering. In warm areas with occasional freezes, wait until after threat of frost. In northern areas where winters are cold and wet, enjoy paperwhites indoors and plant winter-hardy Tazetta hybrids in the garden. "Geranium [shown above], Golden Dawn, Hoopoe, Mot Mot, and Cragford are hardy types," says Delaney.