Finding Paperwhite Narcissus in January


I just saw your Jan 1 2024 posting about these bulbs.
Any idea where I can get them in Toronto or is this something I should have bought in the fall?
I have searched a number of local garden supplies stores, and no one seems to have them.
Your help would be appreciated!


Dear gardener, I have sad news for you.

The garden supply stores stock up with winter bulbs such as paper whites, amaryllis, and narcissus in October and November, so people can start them and get them to flower in order to decorate their homes or give away as presents during the holiday season. The bulbs are “forced” so they flower on time.

I have likewise been looking out for any winter bulbs that may be left over from the holiday season, since I think it is fabulous to start them in January and February. I was incredibly lucky to find the very last amaryllis for sale in a plant nursery. Perhaps if you keep looking, you too can find an orphan that needs a home.

My major consolation is that our spring bulbs will hopefully be starting to come to life in our gardens in April and May.

Forcing bulbs so that they flower during the middle of winter during the shortest days of the year is a fascinating process. The most important feature is that most bulbs like paperwhites, (not amaryllis) usually need about 12-14 weeks of being cold before you pot them up to re-start growing roots and leaves and flowers during winter. It takes a bit of pre-planning.

You may find this article on forcing a number of different kinds of bulbs very interesting. Better Homes & Gardens has a good list of just how long one needs to chill bulbs (in summer/early fall) for them to bloom during the winter months. The University of Missouri’s Extension agency has a really comprehensive look at the subject.

Good luck with your search and if you do find any bulbs, have fun & enjoy!