Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I think I have found a use for the bottle of whisky that has been languishing on the shelf for the last ten years. Here's the scoop.

Are you always disappointed in how your paperwhites produce long leggy leaves and blooms, which eventually topple over? Someone has found the answer and I just learnt about it.

Give them a tot of alcohol and it will stunt their growth without diminishing the bloom. You can read all about it  here.

In the past I have potted up paperwhites in a low bowl filled with stones and water. They always disappoint me with their floppy blooms and foliage. Last year I bought the bulbs but ended up putting them in the ground and did enjoy their blooms. After the foliage died back I removed the bulbs leaving them in the potting shed over the summer. My plan was to put them back in the garden sometime after Christmas. I've changed my mind.

Most of these bulbs will not produce a flower this year so they are going back in the ground.

The largest I put in the hyacinth jar. I filled it with water and will wait until it has produced a 2" green shoot. Then it will get its holiday tipple.

I will pour off the water and replace with a solution of 1 part whisky to 7 parts water. This dilution will give 6% alcohol, the recommended dilution. Any spirits can be used as well as rubbing alcohol (which would require a different dilution). Don't use beer or wine as they contain sugars, which is just as well, in this house!
I was telling my husband about this over breakfast this morning. He said it must have an effect on water uptake. That's a chemist for you!


  1. Fascinating. Keep us informed on how it works for you.

  2. Great find, and an excellent paper! Your husband was right btw, the paper says that alcohol interferes with water uptake.

    It also says that more than 10% alcohol will cause growth problems, and 25% is lethal. So don't overdo it!

  3. The titles to your posts always hook me in...but then you actually did it! Way better than beer to drown slugs and snails.

  4. Bizarre!! I asked Michael if he knew how to keep the paperwhites from being so leggy and flopping over (thinking I had something new and neat he didn't know) and he said "oh yeah, give em' vodka- makes em' shorter". Like everyone knows this. I think that is so neat!!! Very interesting!!! Let me know how they turn out.

  5. Good to know! Love your new header, Jenny.

  6. How cool is this...I may have to try it!!!

  7. Really interesting!
    I never imagined this.
    I have to try

  8. I put my paperwhites in stones and water yesterday. I believe I'll keep my 20 year old Scotch that is now 40 years old for another experiment. I like tall narcissus. I tie the stems together with raffia and use a little bamboo stick tucked out of sight in the container for support. I am trying using the taller glass vases that came in kits with amaryllis bulbs last year for narcissus support this year.

  9. I guess everyone enjoys a nip, now an then.

  10. Now this is a new one for me!