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NARCISSUS papyraceus

Image of Narcissus papyraceus

International Flower Bulb Centre

Family

Amaryllidaceae

Botanical Name

NARCISSUS papyraceus

Plant Common Name

Paperwhite Narcissus

General Description

The small delicate flowers of true paperwhite narcissus are early season jewels that emit a strong distinctive scent. Each bulb produces scapes topped with clusters of small Narcissus blooms with white perianths and tiny white cups. The charming spring bulbs are native to upland Mediterranean regions, from the Riviera to North Africa. Plants are often confused with Narcissus tazetta specimens. (So much so that some taxonomists deem them synonymous, but not all.) Wild populations have a lot of natural variation.

The large oval bulbs of paperwhites have brown papery tunics. In late winter or spring they put forth a cluster of upright, flat, keeled blades of medium green. Flowers are soon to follow. Each scape may hold five to twenty small white blooms, which emit a strong musky-sweet fragrance. Like all Narcissus, the blooms are distinguished by six showy petal-like tepals that surround a protruding tubular floral structure called a corona. The small spreading tepals of paperwhites surround a tiny white corona that may be slightly ruffled. Bees are particularly attracted to the bright flowers.

These hardy, spring-blooming bulbs may flower in late winter or spring, depending geographic location. Over time they will form substantial clumps and naturalize nicely. Unlike tulips, they are poisonous, so their bulbs are not eaten by small mammals and their green tops are not browsed by deer.

Daffodils are some of the easiest bulbs to grow. They prefer full to part sun and require average to fertile soil. After blooming, it is good to let their green tops photosynthesize to allow them to store plenty of fuel for next spring’s display. Once their leaves start to turn yellow, they can be cut to the ground. Hardiness is cultivar/species dependent, but all Narcissus require a chilling period to bloom.

These are lovely spring bulbs for any parkland or home landscape. Hybrids are also very popular for indoor winter forcing.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    15"-24" / 38.1cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    6"-24" / 15.2cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    Mediterranean, Northern Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Black Walnut Toxicity

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Salmon, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Foundation, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes