Although names like "Daffodil" "Paperwhite", and "Jonquil" distinguish one type of bloom from another, all are a type of narcissus and many narcissus bulbs can be "forced" to grow inside as well as in the garden.
Most often, the small, fragrant paperwhite (N. tazetta) is the type of narcissus that is grown indoors. These tender bulbs are bred especially for the indoor gardener. The paperwhite is the only type of narcissus that doesn't require a period of cold and darkness to bloom. Even so, starting them in a cool, dark area helps stems to fill out and remain strong enough to support their petite blooms.
Paperwhites almost guarantee a successful beginning for even the novice indoor bulb gardener. These delicate beauties are so eager to sprout that in addition to the traditional soil-filled pot, you can grow them in a low dish of water and gravel or even a glass of water. Depend on paperwhites to bloom from two to six weeks after "planting".
In addition to paperwhites, there are several types of larger daffodils sold specifically for forcing indoors. However, you can coerce nearly any type of hardy outdoor daffodil to bloom indoors. When sorting through single bulbs at your garden center, select firm, "double nosed bulbs", which bloom with two flowers instead of just one.
Forced hardy narcissus need a minimum 13-week winter rest period in order to bloom. You'll need to start them 16 to 18 weeks before you expect flowers, since after resting they typically bloom in three to five weeks.
Daffodils do well in containers that give their roots plenty of room to roam. Plant them in pots that are six to eight inches in diameter and at least a foot high. Spacing bulbs is easy. As long as they aren't touching, they aren't too close together. Plant container daffodils a bit differently than those you grow in the garden. For outdoor plantings, a good rule of thumb is to plant any bulb flower at a depth of two to three times its height. However, potted daffodils should be planted with their noses slightly exposed.
Fill your pots half full with potting soil. Since the daffodil bulb contains all the nutrients that the flower needs to grow, all you need worry about is that your mixture is moisture retentive with good drainage and loose enough to allow roots to grow freely. Add soil to within a half-inch to an inch from the top of your container and moisten the soil. After all this work, your daffodil bulbs are ready for a rest!
How you store daffodils during their rest period depends on where you live. In southern areas where the ground doesn't freeze solid, you can bury the pots outdoors or store them in a trench or box. In northern areas where temperatures dip severely, rest daffodil bulbs indoors and insulate them with a covering of leaves or sawdust to help moderate the soil temperature.
For gardeners who like to do things the easy way, planted bulbs can "winter" in a refrigerator that is kept at 35 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when storing bulbs in your refrigerator, take care not to store them with apples or other fruits that produce ethylene gas.
Mark your calendar with the date you put your bulbs into storage and the date you expect to retrieve them. Keep potting medium moist during the storage period. In five to six weeks, you should see roots coming out the bottom of your pot. However, your daffodils still need more time in cold storage. In fact, longer storage results in taller flowers. At the end of the storage period, your daffodils will have developed an excellent root system and you should see the beginning of new growth sprouting from the top of your pot.
After storage, introduce your plants to your home by setting them in a well-lighted area with an average temperature of 60° to 63°F. In three to four weeks, whatever the season, you'll experience spring in the luxury of homegrown indoor daffodils!