Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tipsy tazettas

Narcissus tazetta, photo by Richard Bloom. My tipsy bulbs still only have tiny green shoots on them...

Paperwhites, Narcissus tazetta, are one of my favourite flowers to force indoors; I love their exotic scent announcing that Christmas is just around the corner. Last year, an unusual way to grow them in a mixture of alcohol (preferably gin) caught my eye somewhere in the cyberspace and this season even more bloggers seem to be spreading the message. With this method, paperwhites should end up roughly a third shorter than usual.
K
I've never heard about growing anything in alcohol, but as my paperwhites always tend to grow very tall and flop over, I thought this would be an interesting thing to try. The bulbs should be started in water, and only when roots have formed and the green shoots are 3 to 6 centimeters long, the water should be poured off and replaced with a mixture of 1 part alcohol to 7 parts water, if using 40 percent alcohol like ordinary gin. Beer and wine are not suitable, as their sugars can damage plants. Behind this method is the Flower Bulb Research Program at the Cornell University, where a study confirming the results was conducted already in 2005. More detailed instructions can be found on their web pages.
K
So now five fat and hopefully happy paperwhite bulbs are sitting on a bed of washed gravel imbibing gin and getting ready for the holiday season. And I am following with great curiosity how they respond to their new regime of Tanqueray on the rocks...

3 comments:

Ruben said...

Detta ska bli väldigt spännande att följa. Undrar om metoden isåfall skulle kunna fungera även på andra lökväxter. /Ruben

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hej Ruben, jag undrar lite vad detta ska bli... men spännande är det. Kanske skulle detta också funka med amaryllis? Fast det ska inte blir för många dvärgväxter, man måste ju ha några ståtliga också. Snart har jag kommit över min jetlag, jag hoppas på att skriva något om en gammal trädgård jag såg i Åbo...

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

Truly fascinating notion. I'm always frustrated at the leggy form of my indoor paperwhites.
Hmm, Tanqueray - it's been ages since I've enjoyed the taste.