A tipsy tip for paperwhites that don't topple

Houseplants 05.13.15
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