Christmas cocktail to keep amaryllis stems short
Paperwhites elicit a very strong response in people. They are those who either love or hate things, like coriander or underwear.
Whether you consider them blank sheets of paper or paper, you’ll love this handy little tip because This applies to any bulb that is forced into winter bloom to ward off seasonal blues.
Keeping amaryllis, paperwhite or lavender stems from toppling over is making them ecstatic.
Water your bulbs with 1 part alcohol to 7 parts water.
In 2006, Erin Finan, an undergraduate student at Cornell University, conducted a study for her final project, based on an old wives’ tale that drinking wine would keep the lengths of her legs in check. And it worked.
I *could* go into all the science I only partially understand but the basic premise is: Alcohol prevents water absorption and places the plant under enough water stress to reduce leaf and stem growth But there is not enough pressure to affect the size and longevity of the flower.
How to Keep Forced Bulb Stems Shorter
This technique will keep bulb stems forced from ⅓ to ½ of their natural height. Just enough to stop getting lost.
NB: Do not start using the alcohol solution for irrigation until the bulbs begin to grow stems. When they are 1-2 inches tall, that is when you start watering with alcohol.
- For this you need small rocks to plant the bulbs, bulbs for forcing, a pot without drainage holes, and any alcohol such as vodka, gin, rum or tequila. Do not use beer or wine – they contain too much sugar.
- Add a layer of stones to the bottom of the bowl.
- Add enough water to reach the top of the stones. Write down approximately how much water you used so you don’t drown or underwater later. With this pot and layer of stones, I needed three-quarters of a cup of water.
- Place your lamps on top of the rocks.
- Fill the rest of the pot around the bulbs with more rocks to hold the bulbs firmly in place.
- Now mix up your alcohol watering solution. For any alcoholic drink containing 40 proof such as vodka, gin or tequila Mix 1 part alcohol with 7 parts water.
¼ cup vodka + 1¾ cup water
You don’t want to drink too much alcohol. You want happy, drunk, not beating around the bush.
It should be a 4-6% alcohol solution, but as long as you keep it under 10% you won’t make them drink until they end up completely stunted.
If you do not keep alcohol in your home You can also use rubbing alcohol. But since 70% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is about twice as strong as regular spirits, you need to dilute it more.
Dilute 70% rubbing alcohol to this ratio:
One part rubbing alcohol to 11 parts water
Continue watering the bulbs with alcohol solution – until the end of their life. I think you can stop drinking alcohol once the flowers form but that’s just a guess from my non-scientific experience growing plants.
I am growing amaryllis and paperwhite this year, with one grower being the control group and the other being the experimental group.
I will update this post as the results come in to let you know whether the buzz bulbs stay strong or fall topsy-turvy.
If you’ve already planted your bulbs and they’re growing (because you’re almost embarrassingly efficient at preparing your plant this year) I’d go ahead and start watering them with the alcohol solution now to see what happens.
Help yourself. Put them in Christmas spirits.