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A tipsy tip for paperwhites that don't topple

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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:
http://www.hort.cornell.edu/department/faculty/wmiller/bulb/Pickling_your_Paperwhites.pdf

Got a question about this project?

  • Becky H
    Becky H Tampa, FL
    on Nov 14, 2012

    Want to talk about timing....! THANK YOU @Douglas Hunt ! I just potted some paperwhites and will use this method!

  • Miriam I
    Miriam I Bay Shore, NY
    on Nov 14, 2012

    Awesome post!

  • Libby at An Eye For Detail
    Libby at An Eye For Detail Pittsboro, NC
    on Nov 14, 2012

    I've heard of doing this...really? does it work? Just bought a dozen bulbs last weekend and was about to plant. So, do you start with the alcohol from the very beginning?

  • Douglas Hunt
    Douglas Hunt New Smyrna Beach, FL
    on Nov 14, 2012

    It works, Libby. Start with water and, when the foliage is a couple of inches high, switch to the diluted alcohol solution. See the link for amounts to use based on the proof of the liquor you're using and more details.

  • Vicki
    Vicki Smyrna, GA
    on Nov 14, 2012

    i heard of that last year and did not try that last year but gotta to try this yr. I used pretty glimming ribbons to tie around to look pretty.

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