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Beach Bum

I've always loved the bit of spring in the depth of winter that comes from forcing bulbs. Enjoy them!


Forcing bulbs is one of my fondest memories from childhood, and I'm someone who doesn't have a lot of happy Christmas memories. :-( So it's become a tradition with my adult Christmases just for that reason.

Forced paperwhite bulbs almost always get "leggy" and they will often tip over no matter how well they're anchored. However, Cornell Univ. School of Horticulture published an article about giving them an alcohol solution to keep them from getting too tall. Once they've sprouted an inch or so, water them with a 5 percent mixture of alcohol (any booze will do, except wine or beer.)

Here's a link that explains the process:


This link has another link to the original Cornell Univ. article on the subject.

I tried the booze thing this year and indeed, it kept my paperwhites at a good height without compromising the blooms.

P.S. I also wince at the term "forcing" because it sounds so darn... ILLEGAL. Or something. But forced bulbs aren't always depleted, and I've read you can hang them up in a darkcellar and they may come back in a year.


See... this is one of the reasons why I read your blog. Because you do medicine, and have fun with your kids, and putter in your garden... and do cool things like forcing bulbs. Nice photos, too!


@Annapolitan - Thanks for the alcohol tip.

Another tip that I found here:


" . . . when roots have grown to about 2.5 cm, keep water 6 mm below base of bulbs. Place bulbs in a cool (5° to 10°C) dark place for about two weeks. Warmer temperatures stimulate stem growth at the expense of root growth, and heavy flowers will topple the plant over. Strong roots appear within a matter of days. When shoots appear, move to a cool, sunny spot, 15 to 20°C."


You never cease to amaze me with all your crafty, homesy (not really a word but whatever) and fun ideas. You are such a great mom.

Irene hoogland

Thanks Martina! You just "forced" me to make a trip to Garden Works. Had to get some paperwhites, and I'm also going to try some tulips!!

Mary Smith

What a cool experiment to do with your kids. I hope you show us how they turn out!!!

marcella Veenman-Mulder

thank you !!!!
you do inspire!!!

janice's sister-in-law

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  • I'm a Canadian doctor with four kids. I spend most days in Vancouver and nights in the quiet of Deep Cove. I value idleness and reflection, which means I work part-time and we're often out of milk.
  • Credentials: BSc, MD, CCFP
  • I do not represent my employer or institution.
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