Are you buying paperwhites now to brighten your winter with lovely white blossoms and heady aromas? If so, consider bathing them in a five-percent alcohol solution to stunt stem growth without sacrificing the size and loveliness of the flowers. While your paperwhites may get tipsy, they won't tip over.
This method for avoiding the flop-over effect of paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) that grow as much as 30 inches tall is noted by horticulturists, including the Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell University. While you may prefer a higher alcohol level in your own wine or beer, paperwhites find that a five-percent alcohol solution hits the target. Specifically, we are looking for one part alcohol to seven parts water. If you're game, here's how.
A lovely glass container
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup Vodka (or gin -- do not use beer or wine)
1. Plant your bulbs in a vase filled with stones and water. The water should reach only to the base of each bulb (or risk rot). Allow about one week to pass.
2. When the roots grow and the shoot is about one or two inches tall, drain the water.
3. Create a tipsy solution: Pour water into a measuring cup and add the vodka. Place the solution into the vase that holds your paperwhites, only to the base of each bulb.
4. Pour yourself a glass of wine or beer or -- wait for it -- a screwdriver, and raise a glass to a job well done. Cheers!