Usually, a few drinks too many can impede our ability to stay upright, but in the case of forced paperwhites, a bit of booze actually helps keep them vertical. A horticultural student at New York’s Cornell University accidentally spilled some of his alcoholic beverage into a pot of paperwhites that had just sprouted. A few weeks later, fellow students noticed that plants that had imbibed were shorter than the others, even though the blooms were the same size. Four months and three trials later, the findings were announced: a few drops of alcohol result in stalks that are 40 per cent shorter, which means they don’t flop over.
The best way to ply your paperwhites with liquor is to place pebbles in a container, add water just to the top of the pebbles and rest the bulbs on the pebbles so they’re not touching the water. Once sprouts are five centimetres tall, carefully pour out the water and replace it with a mixture of nine parts water to one part alcohol. Keep in mind that paperwhites prefer hard liquor: rum, gin, tequila and vodka have all proven effective. Wine or beer can damage the bulbs, so choose your potent potable responsibly. Cheers!