Enjoy a Paperwhite Cocktail

December 16, 2008 | By | Comments (2)

Shaken or stirred… it just doesn’t matter.

Forcing paperwhite narcissus into bloom indoors is about the easiest and most fun thing to do around the holidays. I know this because it’s the only gardening activity my wife, the plant hater, likes to do.

Unfortunately, her paperwhites, like certain young actresses, kept falling down, but for not the same reasons. They had responded to insufficient light and too warm air by growing faster than Lindsey Lohan checks in and out of rehab. At 4 feet tall, they pulled over their glass vase and smashed it on the floor, rudely interrupting my “Ice Road Truckers’ marathon on TV.

Your Mother Warned This Would Happen

Then I discovered the secret to stunting their growth. According to researchers at Cornell, adding gin to the water reduces the bulbs’s height by about a third. You start the bulbs in water until they develop roots, then replace it with a mixture of 1 part gin to 7 parts water. Freshen the drink as necessary and use the cheap stuff — remember, you aren’t dealing with James Bond.

I followed the directions using the bulbs and was totally amazed. Now I know how to keep my son from constantly outgrowing his clothes.


  1. Grumpy Gardener

    Yes, especially after you’ve had three gin-and-tonics.

    December 17, 2008 at 8:46 am
  2. Gardening With Confidence

    Just the other day, a friend at the JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer party shared with me this gin secret. If I didn’t dislike the smell of paperwhites so much, I might even try it…does it make them smell better too?

    December 16, 2008 at 7:02 pm

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