I’ve been eager to try forcing paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) for a long time, but never got around to buying the bulbs. I finally pulled the trigger and ordered a bunch on amazon and it really is as easy as they say!! Its like magic. You don’t need sunlight, you don’t need soil, and you can do it in the middle of the winter. Just stick them in a rock-lined vase and add water! In only three weeks you’ll have abundant bunches of little white flowers. They grow so quickly and heartily that you may even want to stunt their growth a little to prevent them from getting top-heavy and falling over. I found this article about how to add alcohol into the water to stunt their growth and it worked really well for me. I think one of the most fun things about having plants indoors is watching them grow, so take a look at the picks below!
On the first day they arrived in the mail, I wedged them into a rock-lined vase filled with just enough water to cover the bottoms of the bulbs. You want to wedge them in nice and tight so that they don’t fall over when they start growing.
Its crazy because they had already begun to sprout by the time they arrived.
After five days, the sprouts stayed about the same height, but the roots had started to shoot out rather quickly.
By day nine, the roots had grown into wild tendrils.
Now that the roots had fully grown, the leaves started to gain some height. You can also see one or two flower buds/pods just emerging.
At this point I decided to add in alcohol according to the chart below from about.com. All I had was Grey Goose which is 40% alcohol, so I used 7 parts water and one part Goose:
10% Alcohol = 1 Part Water to 1 Part Alcohol
15% Alcohol = 2 Parts Water to 1 Part Alcohol
20% Alcohol = 3 Parts Water to 1 Part Alcohol
25% Alcohol = 4 Parts Water to 1 Part Alcohol
30% Alcohol = 5 Parts Water to 1 Part Alcohol
35% Alcohol = 6 Parts Water to 1 Part Alcohol
40% Alcohol = 7 Parts Water to 1 Part Alcohol
The growth really accelerated at this point. Only two days later the plant was significantly taller, and you could see many more flower buds poking up. I can’t imagine how tall they would have been if I didn’t feed them liquor.
For the next week or so, nothing major happened for most of the week. They just continued to get taller and taller. Then Joe and I went away for the weekend and came back to this!!
About half of the pods have bloomed! My only complaint is that they smell similar to lilies, which I’ve always thought smell kind of cheesy… or like some kind of Chinese preserved food …or something less pleasant than other flowers. But they look absolutely lovely! I’m definitely going to make this a winter tradition =)