Clay Higgins, North Carolina

Paper Whites & Alcohol

December 14, 2017

Categories: American Daffodil Society, Bulb Information, Daffodil Enthusiasts, General, Growing Daffodils

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I was at a garden club meeting today and they were handing out a paper that said if you added alcohol to the water of paper whites it would keep the paper whites from growing so tall.

I don’t grow paper whites.  Does anyone know if alcohol will stop paper whites from growing tall?


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11 Responses to Paper Whites & Alcohol

  1. David Adams, New Zealand
    December 14, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I don’t know the answer but suggest that they may not be able to stand up and the flower heads will be at ground level if that helps.

  2. Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio
    December 15, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Apparently this works.  Go to and search for Pickling your Paperwhites, or even just pickling paperwhites.  You’ll find several articles.  The research was done at Cornell University.

  3. Ian Tyler, England
    December 15, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    It works for me Clay, I stop growing and just fall over! If you are suggesting watering with alcohol while still growing they will stop as you are more than likely killing it.

    I have heard of adding various sprites to cut flowers to extend the flowering time, but this I think is minimal and a waist of good staging



  4. Jaydee Ager, Georgia
    Jaydee Ager, Georgia
    December 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm



    This info has circulated many times and it is legit I am told. I believe NC State has done a lot of research and perhaps this was the original source of the info. I think I recall Brent Heath talking about it in one of his ADS presentations. I’m thinking you give the bulbs a little taste of vodka to retard growth, and you pour some for yourself, too. I suppose that if you drink enough of the alcohol—you won’t care if the paper white foliage and bloom scapes are 3 feet tall and flopping all over your table. Consider this: “Holiday Humor”.

    Jaydee Atkins Ager


  5. Jackie Turbidy, Georgia
    December 15, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Mine are blooming right now. I’ll pick two stems, one with alcohol and one without and let you know.


  6. Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    December 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Hi David,

    This alcohol business was being handed out in written form by a local bulb farm by the name of Terra Ceira farms that had provided the Center Pieces at the local garden club “Christmas” lunch celebration. The garden clubs swear by them, however, I have found that only once in a while do you get the daffodil bulbs that you ordered. They seem to be good at paper whites and Amaryllis.


  7. Janie Vaughan, Virginia
    December 15, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I always heard it had to be gin!! I tried it but don’t recall any miracles… Janie Vaughan

    Sent from my iPhone

  8. Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    December 16, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Thanks everyone for the comments on alcohol and paper-whites.  I like the comment that it’s best to give the daffodil a little and take some for yourself, specially the Gin. 🙂  Ian had it right.  Thanks guys you are a hoot!!!  I will not try the paper-whites or the alcohol.


  9. Janet Hickman, Virginia
    December 16, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I do this, and it works.  You let the shoots start growing, then add just a touch of vodka or gin once.  They bloom normally but the stems stay shorter.  Only takes a little—plenty of gin left for the grower.


  10. Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    December 16, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Thanks Mary Lou.

  11. Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    December 17, 2017 at 8:30 am

    The garden club considers me the daffodil expert so now I have one more item that I can add to my presence as the “walking directory of useless information.”

    Thanks Janet. It is truly new information for me.