By: Deb Pavlosky
Evidently, I am late to this secret, but if you grow paperwhite narcissus bulbs, there is a way to keep the foliage from growing too tall and falling over. WOW! I am so excited to start my bulbs now!!! When planting your bulbs, choose a container with no holes and use a substrate of gravel or rocks or marbles, etc. I like to use canning jars or wine glasses or hurricanes, etc with some colorful and pretty gravel. Use just enough substrate to support your bulb without completely covering it. Find a nice sunny location to place your bulb (whether indoors or out) and add water to the container to just reach the bottom of the bulb. Add water as needed to maintain the water level.
Then you wait….
Once roots appear and a green shoot is growing about 1″-2″ above the bulb, pour off the old water and replace with a 4%-6% solution of hard liquor (like vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey, etc). To get a 5% solution from an 80 proof (40%) distilled liquor, add 1 part liquor to 7 parts water. You can use isopropyl alcohol if you reserve your booze for more important uses (for 70% rubbing alcohol, use 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10-11 parts water). Anytime you add water to your bulb, use the alcohol solution. This stunts the growth, but not the size of the flowers.
Voila! You should get short, but beautiful flowers!!!! I may even try this on some other bulbs too!!!!
*Don’t use more than a 4%-6% solution, you will kill your bulbs
*Don’t use beer or wine, the sugar will harm your bulbs
To read more about “Pickling your Paperwhites” go here: