A tipsy tip for paperwhites that don't topple

Plants & Flowers 05.05.14
Several Hometalkers have posted recently about potting up paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta), one of the most popular, and easiest, plants for indoor forcing. Simply put them in a bowl with some pebbles, add a little water, and, two to three weeks later, voila. But one recurrent problem is the tendency of these fragrant bloomers to flop over. The solution: alcohol. Yes, by irrigating your plants with a diluted solution of alcohol (you can use vodka, gin, tequila, rum or even rubbing alcohol) you will end up with plants that are about one-third less high, but with blooms that are just as fragrant and last just as long. And this isn't just a folk remedy. The folks at the Flowerbulb Research Program at Cornell University have tested it and proven it works. Two caveats: don't use too much alcohol (a 4 to 6 percent solution is optimal) and don't use beer or wine, as the sugars in those will cause major problems for the plants. You'll find complete directions here:


  • Douglas Hunt
    Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
    Jami @ An Oregon Cottage and Petticoat Junktion: You should definitely give them another
  • Kelly S
    Kelly S Bremerton, WA
    Doug, thanks for the timely info. I am going to pot some paperwhites and amaryilis next weekend. I was just going to use a wire support that is normally used in the garden.
  • Douglas Hunt
    Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
    Try this, Kelly S. and you may not have to rely on the wire support.
  • Sandie
    Sandie Palm Coast, FL
    I started the paperwhite before reading your posting. They should be opening up any day now. I usually prop them up with chopsticks, or something similar. I planted some pansies outside the other day. They love this cool weather. :)
  • Valerie H
    Valerie H East Hampton, NY
    Doug, great tip, although I might take issue with the statement that I will end up with plants that are "one-third less high." Oh, I suspect my paperwhites will be PLENTY "high." ;-)
  • Ligia Bello
    Ligia Bello Palm Harbor, FL
    Thanks Douglas
  • Douglas Hunt
    Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
    Valerie H : LOL! But it is important not to overdue. Your plants should have a gentle buzz, not be sloshed.
  • Valerie H
    Valerie H East Hampton, NY
    Thanks, Doug!
  • Rocky Mountain WaterScape
    Great idea! Thanks so much! I am always trying to find a creative way to tie them up!
  • Bernice H
    Bernice H New York, NY
    What a good idea! Thanks so much! Douglas Hunt I might try this! I have never grown bulbs like this, is this the time ,or can you do them any time? And I like that you dont want them sloshed or too tipsy! haha funny!
  • Sharron W
    Sharron W Memphis, TN
    Well I just bought some and I'm going to give this a try...
  • Linnea Krones
    Linnea Krones Houston, TX
    These are just beautiful and delicate looking. I've never done this, but I may give it a shot.
  • Douglas Hunt
    Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
    They are beautiful, Linnea, but they're not delicate. Give 'em a try!
  • Deborah S
    Deborah S Ossineke, MI
    I've never grown them but want to try this year. Thanks for the tip!
  • Nancy @ On The Home Front
    Nancy @ On The Home Front Bridgewater Corners, VT
    What a great tip, I am join to try this with my next batch of bulbs!
Douglas Hunt