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Monday, January 5, 2009

Forcing Paperwhites - Stop the Flop

Now that the holiday colors have slowly disappeared and old man winter is just starting, what better time is there to add some spring color inside by forcing a few bulbs - I'm talking about paperwhites and amaryllis. Most people force these bulbs earlier in the fall so they will bloom in time for the holidays, but personally, I need something that's going to provide some inside color now that will help get me through the winter months.

paperwhites2

I recently was listening to the Gestalt Gardener podcast and picked up on a neat tip on forcing paperwhite narcissus. Many of you may already know, but it seems that when paperwhite bulbs are grown in a diluted solution of alcohol, the plants reach a height of 1/3 their normally expected growth - but the flowers remain normal size and last just as long. Why would you want to do this you ask? Well, paperwhites can get leggy and become top-heavy as they bloom and eventually flop over unless staked. It appears that the resulting water stress on the plants is just enough to stunt their growth, creating a shorter, stockier plant, preventing it from flopping. This find was made by the horticulture department at Cornell University. Click the link below to read the report. The report explains how much and what kinds of alcohol can be used:

http://www.hort.cornell.edu/miller/bulb/pickling_your_paperwhites.pdf

Paperwhites

I'll post info and results from my paperwhite narcissus bulbs as they grow and begin blooming - hopefully I wont OD them!

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4 comments:

Kallen305 said...

I can't wait to see them. I don't have a green thumb when it comes to indoor plants so have to get my fix through folks like you.

dAwN said...

Wow ..great info..I love paperwhites but dont like the leggy part.
Let us know how it goes...

Alan said...

Hey Kallen,
You can do it! They're so easy to grow. Just go to one of the links in my post and it will show you how to do it. I have faith in you!! lol!


Hey Dawn, I'll let you know how it goes!

Gail said...

Alan,

Hi! I am going to try to grow amaryllis from bulbs I plant! The ones I bought at the grocery store (you can laugh) toppled over! The soil didn't hold the bulb! I think it was planted in too shallow a pot now that I look at it! Too funny.

Gail