The initial steps of the spring forcing are the same. When the bulbs arrive, open the bags immediately to allow air to reach the bulbs. If you cannot pot the bulbs immediately, store them at room temperature in a dark place for up to 4-6 weeks. Select a container that is 3-5 inches deep with no drainage holes. Spread 1-2 inches of marbles, stones or gravel along the bottom. I like the look of white aquarium rocks myself for the holidays. Place your bulbs, pointed sides up, on the rocks. They can be placed close together or as a single specimen according to your decorating preference. Fill in the gaps with remaining stone up to the shoulders of the bulbs. Add water so that the level just touches the base of the bulbs. A higher level of water can lead to rot. Light is not needed at this time and the preferred temperature is about 65F. As you check your water level daily, watch for root development. When this occurs, move the plant to a bright light source. When the shoot is green and growing about 1-2 inches above the bulb, it’s time to get the party started. Pour off the existing water and replace it with a solution of 4-6% alcohol. You can make it from any hard liquor or even rubbing alcohol if you don’t keep hard liquor in the house-or never have any left over. Remember that “proof” is twice the amount of percentage in the liquor. I will list the calculation at the end of the article. Going forward you use this solution to water your paperwhites. The plant will be approximately 1/3 shorter. But the flowers will be just as large and fragrant. Most importantly, it will stay upright on its own.
To convert your liquor/rubbing alcohol to 5%, just divide the percentage(not the proof) by 5 and then subtract 1. That will tell you how many parts water to mix with your 1 part alcohol. In example, 40% (gin, vodka, tequila,rum) divided by 5=8: 8 minus 1 =7 …7 parts water to 1 part alcohol.
post by Rhonda Bilyeu, CMG