‘Tis the season for Holiday Bulbs

If you receive a lovely gift of a paperwhite bulb kit or buy one on your own, here’s a hint to get flowers that don’t flop over.   Stop paperwhite bulbs from flopping by giving them a little cocktail!  A dilute alcohol solution reduces the amount of water the stems can take up which results in shorter, stouter stems without affecting bloom.  Start bulbs six weeks before you want bloom.

How To:

  1.  Select large fat firm paperwhite bulbs to fit without touching in a waterproof container.
  2. Secure bulbs, round root plate down, in a base of gravel, pebbles, or marbles.
  3. Make sure shoulder and bloom tip of bulb are above water level.
  4. Fill water to shoulder and keep in a cool dark place for the first week.
  5. When tops are 1-2″ tall, pour off the water and replace with the following solution:
    1. Add 1/4 cup 80 proof liquor* or ethanol to 1 3/4 cup water.  Continue using this formula until bloom.  Use ‘hard liquor’ such as vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskey but NOT beer or wine whose sugars damage plants.
  6. Also bring bulbs into stronger light once alcohol mixture is used.

* Read entire article from the Cornell Horticulture department:  https://blogs.cornell.edu/hort/2009/11/10/pickling-your-paperwhites/