24 November 26, 2008
The cold weather seems to have set in early this year. Hopefully the promise of warmer weather will help us to finish up all of the fall chores.
Many people start paperwhite narcissus bulbs to give as Christmas gifts. For many people, the flower stalks tend to get leggy and flop over just as the flower buds begin to open. There is a way to help to prevent this from happening. Give your papaerwhites a good stiff drink!
How this came about is beyond me, but someone figured out that using a 4-6% alcohol solution in place of plain water will make the flower stalks 1/3 to ½ shorter than the normal growth of the flower stalk. The flowers will open as normal and the flowers will last as long. Here is what you need to do.
Pot up your paperwhite bulbs in a container that will hold water. Set the bulbs in pebbles as you normally would in your container. Place straight water into the container. Once you have the roots developed and the green tips are 1 to 2 inches high, pour off the water and begin to use your alcohol and water solution. It is very important that you keep the percentage of alcohol down to 4 to 6 %. If you use a 10% solution or higher, it will harm the bulbs. You can use rubbing alcohol or any liquor. Don’t use beer or wine because of the high sugar content. If you were lousy at the math thing in high school (like yours truly) you can use the following conversion.
10% alcohol 1 part water to 1 part alcohol.
15% alcohol 2 parts water to 1 part alcohol
20% alcohol 3 parts water to 1 part alcohol
25 % alcohol 4 parts water to 1 part alcohol.
At higher rates of alcohol, for every 5 % increase in alcohol you increase the dilution by 1 part more water.
You will continue to use the alcohol and water solution until the flowers have finished flowering. This will give you the shorter flower stalks that you have wished for and yet you will still have flowers that will last for a long time. In case you were wondering, it takes about 4 weeks from planting the paperwhites until they come into flower.
Well, that’s all for this week. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.