Friday, December 15, 2006

Alcoholic paperwhites

'Tis the season to be jolly.

Get rid of those ugly support rings and other device to hold up your leggy paperwhites.

Valerie Sudol of the Newhouse News Service writes that giving forced paperwhites alcohol, distilled spirits not wine or beer, will keep the paperwhites from growing leggy and flopping over. Apparently William Miller, director at Cornell's flowerbulb research program did some studies using alcohol on bulbs. Aha, so this is what they study at Cornell. The result, paperwhites that were 1/3 to 1/2 shorter and retaining the flower size, fragrance and longevity.

To do this start the paperwhites like you normally do in water and pebbles. Wait until the roots start growing and the shoots are and inch or two tall. Pour off the water and give the plant a 4 to 6 % solution of alcohol. How much is 4-6 percent? Buy some vodka, whiskey, gin, rum etc. name your poison which is usually 80 proof or 40 % alcohol. Mix one cup with 7 cups of water and you will have a 5% solution. Apparently if you don't have spirits in your home, you can use rubbing alcohol cut with 10-11 parts water.

Apparently the alcohol inhibits the uptake of water by its roots, stunting the plant's growth. Who knew? I wonder if this treatment would work to keep shrubs a certain size?


Blogger IBOY said...

So it keeps them from flopping over... funny, alcohol has the opposite effect on me.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Don,
Ha, ha, I didn't think of that when I was reading the article. Watch out it doesn't stunt you.

6:07 PM  
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4:49 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking).


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1:51 AM  

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