So let’s change the terminology here, shall we? It’s not forcing a Paperwhite bulb, it’s coaxing it. Specifically encouraging it to bloom out of season.
Most spring flowering bulbs need 12 to 15 weeks at temperatures between 41 and 48 degrees in order to produce a good root system essential to “force” them to flower. But if you are looking to have lovely blooms this winter, we suggest Paperwhites.
Narcissus tazetta – which in addition to Paperwhites also includes the Soleil d’Or and Chinese Sacred Lily – are among the most popular forcing flowers that do not require the 12-week rooting period. They are easy to start and can give wonderfully scented, white trumpeted flowers until late March.
Paperwhites are most often (and most easily) potted in shallow containers of gravel or decorative stones. Place bulbs on a layer of gravel and carefully fill in enough gravel to hold bulbs but not cover them, or place them onto the stones, pushing them down just far enough so the bulbs are supported in an upright position. Put several of them together, not worrying about crowding. A crowded grouping will be the most attractive.
Add water to the container. It should just reach the base of the bulbs, but not touch the bulbs. If the water covers too much of the bulb, it will rot. Now put them in a cool dark place for one to two weeks. When the roots have begun to take hold, and the plant has sprung from the bulb, take the pot out into a brightly lit room. In about a month, your Paper Whites will be in bloom.
Tip: Plant them in succession so you have pots of Paper Whites blooming all winter! After blooming, cut the flower and stem off. Do not cut back the leaves. Put them in a sunny window and transplant them outdoors when the weather permits. It will take 2 to 3 years before they will bloom again.