Hello fellow readers,
I adore the gift of amaryllis already in bud received on Thanksgiving. Watching the alien-looking beefy blooms open, badly bending the stem, makes me wonder if amaryllis like to party like paperwhites. No kidding. A continuous drink of alcohol keeps paperwhites from toppling over, unlike most of us (smile). Perhaps it works for amaryllis too?
What cocktails to serve?
When growing paperwhite bulbs in water once they grow to two inches, change the water to a 7-to-1 ratio of water-to-spirits such as vodka, tequila, or whiskey and continue watering them with the same mix. Skip the wine or beer, though, as they’re too high in sugar. Or, if you’d prefer not to give up your good cheer, rubbing alcohol will do too.
Alcohol stunts the growth of the stem by about a third without impacting the bloom. Essentially it inhibits water uptake —we’ve always heard alcohol is dehydrating. More is not merrier either, as too much alcohol will overdose your plant, causing severe problems. Plants and People, same-same.
Choose a wide-mouthed container that’s about 4 inches deep with no drainage holes and spread an inch or two of marbles or stones. Position your paperwhite bulbs side by side, pointy end up on top of the stones. The tight fit will help keep them from toppling over, and groupings are far more appealing.
Add another layer of stones to fill in gaps, covering the bulbs just above the widest part, keeping their pointy tips above the stones. Fill up to the bottom of the bulb as if they’re sitting on the water. Then keep the same level throughout as too much water will cause the bulbs to rot.
Paperwhites prefer to be cool, say 65 degrees, and don’t need sunlight until they develop roots. Once they do, move them to a sunny but cool window. Too much warmth will cause them to grow leggy and flop over. Once in flower, move them out of direct sunlight so the blooms will last longer.
It turns out serving cocktails to amaryllis works, too, though they tend to be less floppy, so the need for a drink isn’t as great.
Layer 3-inches of stones, place the amaryllis bulb, then add stones alongside to stabilize it. Maintain the water slightly below the bulb to not touch, causing the bulb to rot. Then begin offering alcohol drinks after two inches of growth emerges.
Both bulbs can only flower once in the water and won’t survive if left in the ground outside in my zone (5b-6), though they can in zones 9 to 11 and zone 8 if protected. But amaryllis bulbs can bloom annually for up to forty years in a potting mix inside, as can paperwhites for about two years. If you wish to know how to get them to rebloom, feel free to ask Mary :^) to check out the link below.
Why not start a new pot of bulbs every couple of weeks to enjoy continuous blooms throughout the winter. Maybe it’s best to allow them to drink alone, though. People may begin to talk.
You’ll enjoy a related column, The Gift of Sharing Growth
Helpful link on How to Get an Amaryllis Bulb to Rebloom