The Tale Of The Drunken Daffodils That Didn’t Get Drunk Enough, I Guess

Last fall I decided that I’d attempt to force some daffodil bulbs to bloom inside the house this winter.  I thought the yellow flowers would be a spot of cheerfulness in February, the grayest of months.

I found THIS ARTICLE that told me how to create the perfect environment for my daffodils so that when it was time to take them out of the dark basement, they’d not get leggy.  Instead, they’d use their energy to make the flowers bloom bigger, better, more colorful.

Bloom being the operative word here.

I did as instructed, rescuing the bulbs from basement darkness a few weeks ago.  At first it seemed like I was going to have, as they used to say, a success experience because the bulbs were getting jiggy, pushing healthy green leaves upward.

I was jazzed.

In fact, in anticipation of the yellow flowers I put the pots with the bulbs in a sunny spot on the kitchen table, where I’d see the beauty from many rooms.

As per the article in order to stunt their growth, I watered the bulbs with a carefully measured concoction of water and alcohol. I mean when you task me with the responsibility of getting some daffodils drunk, I take it seriously. Do my best. Or so I thought.

However as the days have gone by, the daffodils have grown leggy and there’s no indication that they’ll ever bloom.  I agree that they’re a lovely shade of green, but as for the yellow flowers?

There are none and I am sad.

Thinking this through all I can figure is that despite what the article said, in order to stunt their growth the bulbs needed more alcohol than I gave them.  This means I failed them, not getting them liquored up enough to bloom where they were planted.

But if nothing else at least I tried, getting a good blog story out of it. 🍸

These daffodils appear to be sober and aren’t blooming, with no indication that they will. Let that be a lesson to you.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Charmingly cynical. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Fond of words.

132 thoughts on “The Tale Of The Drunken Daffodils That Didn’t Get Drunk Enough, I Guess”

  1. I’ve never heard of adding alcohol to the water. That’s a new one. We used to overwinter amaryllis bulbs, but we never tried forcing them. We’d just plunk them in the dirt when they started putting on leaves, and wait for the flowers. Of course, I’m mostly ignorant of such things, so I just stand around and admire what others can do. At least you got some green leaves instead of green mush!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. shoreacres, I’d never heard of this idea either which is why I wanted to try it. I was careful to follow the instructions, but wonder about the whole approach now. I agree that green leaves are pretty so not a total defeat.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What kind of alcohol did you use? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Was this study funded by the alcohol industry? So strange. I’ve found with plants mine do the best when very little attention is paid to them. I’ve heard orchids are hard to grow, but mine, bloom at least 10 times a year. I water them a little each day which is apparently a big no-no.

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    1. Jill, the idea came from HGTV so I thought it was/is legitimate. You can use either a mix of rubbing alcohol with water OR a mix of vodka with water. I used the former not the latter, so technically I didn’t get the daffys drunk in the traditional sense. I’ve never tried to grow orchids, but your success encourages me to give one a try.

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  3. Sorry about them not taking off and blooming for you, but yes you did amuse your readers and teach them something! I had also never heard of giving plants alcohol, perhaps thats why mine always die!

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    1. joyroses13, this was new to me. When I read the article I decided I had to try it. I like the color green so at least there’s a spot of color, but not the yellow I was hoping for. I don’t know if this idea works for all plants, but wouldn’t it be something if it did!

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  4. So, what exactly did you use? Everclear? Vodka? Cheap rum? It sounds to me like there are lots of options that the article may not have covered. They are healthy, though, which is more than I can say for my poor indoor plants!

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    1. KDKH, I went with the rubbing alcohol + water concoction, but if I try this again next year I’m going to use the vodka option. Both options were supposed to make the daffodils drunk, but I dunno. You’re right these daffs look healthy but they’re beginning to fall over because they got leggy. 😐

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  5. Yes, you did get a great blog post out of this.

    Remember, you can buy silk, yellow blooms to stick in the dirt at Michaels (or whatever home-goods store in your area). Or just enjoy the green – I would!

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    1. Marian, you’ve got me laughing out loud here. I hadn’t thought of cheating the system and buying a silk plant. But you may be onto something, cheerful color is cheerful no matter how it gets here.

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        1. You know, I love tulips, too. I prefer them to daffodils, but I’ve never tried forcing them inside the house. I just buy a tulip bouquet when I’m shopping, bring it home, and enjoy.

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  6. I didn’t even know something like this might work, so the fact you got green was a revelation to me! I’ve brought in forsythia limbs early to force into bloom, but never tried daffodils. Wish you had gotten at least one blossom…but you’re right…it made a good post! What do you do with the bulbs now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dawn, I only learned of this idea last fall when I was researching how to force daffodil bulbs. When I read the article I knew I had to try it.

      We have an area in our backyard [aka the forest primeval] that we’re slowly naturalizing with daffodils. I’ll plant these bulbs back there and they made bloom next year; daffodils are daffy enough to do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You can’t trust a sober daffodil. The green is more color than we’ve seen in a long time. I’d try that, but ours would be nibbled down to nubs. Nothing stunts a daffodil like a munch-hungry cat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan, oh when we had cats I NEVER tried anything like this. You’re right, don’t try this with MuMu around. However, on the upside, by not attempting to get some daffodils drunk, there’s more booze for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A different tack is clearly required. Music is what they really want and a bit of encouraging conversation of the lugubrious kind – Mo Beethoven for them, rather try Mozart. And, be patient. Good luck Ally Bean, I wouldn’t be surprised if they surprise you 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Susan, you raise an excellent point, maybe these bulbs need more care than a snort of alcohol. Music it’ll be. Plus I’ll murmur encouraging thoughts to them. I shall shower them with love, the little buggers.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, I’d never heard of this idea either until I read about it on the HGTV website. I knew I had to try it because it seemed just wacky enough to work. HOWEVER, so far it’s a no go. I buy amaryllis the same was as you do. Life’s too short of fuss around with some things.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve never heard of using alcohol to force bulbs to bloom early! And I can’t remember how they did it in the greenhouse where my mom worked and where I walked the aisles daily for ten years. I always buy cut daffodil when they appear in the grocery store for the first time each spring. I love having them in the house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean, I only learned about this drunken daffodil idea last fall. The article intrigued me so I had to try it. I buy tulips when I first see them in the store, but never daffodils. I don’t know why exactly. Would be much simpler than trying to force bulbs.

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  10. I’ve never heard of using alcohol with plants, particularly rubbing alcohol. Mr. Google suggests that it may stunt plants at a low concentration and kill them at higher concentrations. But, your daffys are alive so don’t give up! Trying something new is a learning experience.

    I am not a plant whisperer. I do well with plants that like or at least tolerate being ignored. I did force narcissus one winter and discovered that they smell terrible, especially in small spaces. Yup. Learning experience. Perhaps I should have gotten them drunk.

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    1. Zazzy, I agree that this is a learning experience and one that hasn’t cost much money, I might add. We had the bulbs here for planting out back in the forest primeval las fall so I used a few of those for this experiment.

      I tried forcing a narcissus bulb once, too. You’re right it smelled awful inside the house. Never again.

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  11. I only tried forcing bulbs indoors once. They were paperwhites, and when they bloomed they made my house smell like dirty diapers. Never again!
    I have never heard of the alcohol trick – interesting. Are you going to try again, and party harder next time? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, I had the same experience when forcing narcissus. They looked beautiful, but the house reeked. If I do try this drunken daffodil idea again, we’ll be partying like it’s 1999. Obviously being responsible with them didn’t work as advertised.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I give you credit for even trying to grow something. The green is pretty and you have managed to get your audience jabbering. I have to also laugh because I caught a few snippets out on the web this morning about old 45 and some difficulties he was having with slurring his words. Perhaps he was trying to grow daffodils and accidentally drank the plant food? Happy Tuesday to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Me, not being a gardener at. all. have never heard of adding alcohol to their water! Is that not a bud reaching out and high on the left of the image? I am hoping it is!

    I give you HUGE points for trying it. I don’t think I would. I’m lucky to have kept the one indoor plant I have alive for over two years now! That’s amazing for me! 😀🍸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, I didn’t know about this approach to forcing bulbs until I stumbled on the article I linked to. Once I read it I knew I had to try it. You could be right that that there’s a bud on the way, IF the stem remains strong enough to support it.

      Congrats on keeping your houseplant alive. That’s a fun thing to try and to succeed in doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. That tallest one looks like it might have a bud on the end. (but I’m not sure) My friend gave me some hydroponic tulips and they are beginning to bloom in my house. I think she got them at Costco, and they are easy (no work) and cheerful. Sorry you went to that much work for no payout. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I agree that there could be a bud coming along, but the stems have gotten leggy and won’t be standing straight up much longer. Without their support nothing is going to flower.

      I saw your tulips and I like them. Very pretty, and without the backdrop of a horticultural experiment.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Feel free to use some of that leftover alcohol for yourself and things will seem much better. 🙂 Reminds me of the story my grandmother told about when my dad and his brother were teething. He said to take a shot of whisky, rub their gums with some…and drink the rest. So you have it from a doctor.

    janet

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  16. I give you points for trying … which is more than I’d do. I go to the local store, buy them, put them in a pretty vase, and then feel perfectly pleased with my gardening skills.
    The idea of liquoring up the plants for maximum blooming does sound rather daffy, so it’s probably true. Maybe that’s where the daffodil got its name 😉 It gives new meaning to not drinking alone 🍸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, thank you. I’ll take points whenever I can get them. I like your analysis of this daffy experiment. You’re right: It gives new meaning to not drinking alone. Well said. *cheers*

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, the color and the joy count for a lot. I’m not distraught over the results of my horticultural experiment, but sure would have liked to get a least one yellow flower from this. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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    1. Anne, you bring up an interesting point. I managed people so I’ve had experience forcing people to do things, but apparently that isn’t a transferable skill when it comes to daffodil bulbs.

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  17. Haha! What kind of alcohol do they mean? Did they get vodka when they prefer tequila? 🙂
    And what does getting leggy mean? I’ve heard of getting jiggy with it. Is that the same thing? Do they start to dance to Will Smith rap songs??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Betsy, so many questions. The article tells you to use vodka. Getting leggy means that the stems grow too tall and thin, unable to support the flowers. Not good. I like the word jiggy so when I saw these daffodils starting to grow, I thought of that word. Whether the daffs are Will Smith fans I could not say. Any more questions?

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  18. the depth of the pot is……well…….not deep enough. Dafs need a LOT of soil around them, otherwise they become leggy and fail to bloom. looks like that’s what you semi-alcoholic blooms need……lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suze, interesting observation. What I read said to allow the tops of bulbs to be seen above the stones. Next year, if I try this again, I’ll do it differently. Thanks for the tip.

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    1. AutumnAshbough, gin for tulips you say? It’s my understanding that the alcohol, any kind of clear alcohol, stunts the growth of the bulbs so that they remain shorter in height and the flowers are bigger. However, I have no proof of this, as evidenced by my daffodils. 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Eilene, upon reflection I think that next year I’ll do as you do, allowing someone else to force the bulbs. I’ll buy said item and save the alcohol for moi. I’ve no doubt that if I’ll *bloom* with a couple of shots of vodka. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I follow a blogger who does some pretty cool things with Paperwhites and plants the bulbs in vintage vases and other types of old-fashioned containers. Kim just showed some of her creations in her last post. My mom and I got an amaryllis plant for Christmas and it was our first … it was a gift from a friend and ordered from Jackson & Perkins.
    You were supposed to start watering it at Christmastime and it would bloom by Spring. It took forever to get green sprouts, then it grew like a weed. I took a photo of it which you can see at the top of this post … this was before it got ridiculously tall and I had to get a stick to support it as it had bent over and touched the ground and looked ridiculous. But I wanted to take a photo of it to show how nice it was to the person who sent it. I did what you were supposed to after it bloomed but it never came back and had a moldy smell, so you know where it went.
    https://lindaschaubblog.net/2014/03/18/a-few-daffs-just-for-laffs/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, your amaryllis was beautiful. So large and colorful– and it didn’t even have a drop of alcohol. I think I’ll show this photo to the poor [now drooping] daffodils to show them what I had in mind. Maybe all they need is some visual inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will wish you luck with that Ally. Shortly after that photo was taken, it started bending to the side like Gumby. I did not give it Miracle Gro either. It had a mind of its own and had beanstalk tendencies. 🙂

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    1. susie, looks can be deceiving. Since I snapped this pic a couple of the stems have fallen over and are hanging down. If we had some sun around here it might help, but this is February and it is gray outside. 🙁

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  20. It’s all news to me, and I think that JUST for your effort alone they should have bloomed for ya. But for what it’s worth… I think even without the flowers they are very beautiful. A great infusion of green.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peta, I agree that seeing green at this time of year is good for my spirits. While I didn’t get my yellow flowers, I did learn about forcing daffodils so I feel like this is a winning experience.

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  21. I applaud your attempts, Ally, even though you didn’t end up with pretty yellow flowers. I have an orchid that will not bloom for me, so I’m wondering if it needs a little brandy or beer. Or if I need to have an adult refreshment tonight and forget about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary, from this daffy daffodil experience I’ve come to decide that imbibing the alcohol myself might be the best approach to growing all plants. Therefore, enjoy your adult refreshment, allowing it to take your mind off your orchid sans blooms. *cheers*

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    1. Dan, that was happening to me all day yesterday on WP blogs. My comments just disappeared, as if I hadn’t left one. I don’t know why, of course– but it did bum me out. I like leaving comments. Thanks for letting me know that happened to you, too.

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    1. Judy, I love all the comments, too. When I started forcing these daffodils last fall I was hoping to have a story about gloriously beautiful daffs, but it sure didn’t go that way. Oh well, you lives, you learns.

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  22. Blooms or not, it’s the perfect shade of green for St. Patricks Day. I’ve forced bulbs before, but only paperwhites which came with a soil puck – the only time I tried to save bulbs in a dark corner of the basement they just dried out – they probably went to AA.

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    1. Joni, ha! Good one. I think you’re onto something there with your reasoning about why your bulbs dried out. These bulbs imbibed the alcohol, but it didn’t help them bloom, the little lushes.

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    1. Erica/Erika, if I had a daffodil farm nearby I’d never try to force some myself. I’d buy local, but around here most daffodil bouquets for sale are wimpy before you get them home. At least I tried something new, so there’s a joy in that even if I have no yellow flowers sitting on the kitchen table. 🤨

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  23. I think the concept of a daffodil preferencing alcoholic “fertiliser,” might come from the sugar content within the alcohol. If you have too much leaf growth this would cause less blooms to develop and leaves to flourish however, more relevant is the legginess and lack of blooms might arise from a lack of enough light. Etiolation is the scientific name for leghiness in plants. (I think I remember that from University botany 101). If you haven’t yet imbibed the rest of the alcohol and feel like reading more, here is a supporting doc – https://homeguides.sfgate.com/plants-dont-enough-light-grow-tall-spindly-71340.html

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    1. Amanda, thanks for the link to the article. I read it and wonder if a lack of sunlight, more than a resistance to the alcohol sugar, is the reason these bulbs haven’t bloomed. I cannot do a thing to get more sunlight on them. They’re in the sunniest spot in the house, but feel somewhat empowered now knowing that I tried with the alcohol and maybe that was what allowed the bulbs to grow green leaves at least. A fun experiment regardless of the results.

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        1. If I do this again I’ll time it so that I take the bulbs out of darkness about a month later than I did this time. That way they’ll get more sunlight.

          Or I’ll just buy some already planted and ready to bloom bulbs at CostCo. That seems like a good idea! 🤔

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  24. I feel your pain. The urge for spring and it’s surest sign – daffodils – is starting to grow in me, too. Did you use cheap liquor? The plant could be rebelling and refusing to bloom if it didn’t get top shelf stuff. That’s my theory, anyway. It’s what I would do if I were a daffodil.

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  25. A friend gave me some narcissus for a late birthday present. She told me the same thing – add alcohol to the container to perk them up. I didn’t add alcohol, but noticed when I over-watered them, they perked right up and bloomed.

    Getting them drunk does sound more appealing, though! 🙂

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    1. Laurie, that’s interesting. Before reading the article I’d not heard of the idea of adding alcohol to bulbs, but it must be a thing. The daffs I tried to force have all now fallen over, not blooming or showing any sign of appreciation for my efforts. Oh well.

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  26. Are there buds on them? They look like they’re getting good sun. (Too many of mine are in partial shade and open later, when they do open.)
    I’ve never heard of adding alcohol. When we lived in Georgia, I forced tulips and paperwhites. The paperwhites proved more successful. All of them bloomed and they lasted more than two weeks. I put tulip bulbs in the freezer for 6 weeks, fridge for two, then in a pot. Half of them bloomed. Very disappoint. The paperwhites I just put the bulbs in water and BOOM! I’ve considered doing the paperwhites again here. They’re so lovely and I have none in the yard.
    Here’s a link to where I bought them and how I did it – voila! I have to say, when I bought mine, I got 24 and in a brown paper bag. Now it looks a little more fancy and pricy. I guess business is good 😉
    https://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/how-to-grow-paperwhite-narcissus-bulbs

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    1. joey, thanks for the link. That looks like a fun winter project and will try that next year. As for these particular daffy, they didn’t make it. They got too leggy, fell over, and never bloomed. Some have suggested that I used the *wrong* alcohol with them, but I prefer to think that they were lushes, highly functioning alcoholics, who needed more alcohol than I gave them. 😉

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      1. Yes, when in doubt, blame substance abuse 🙂 Maybe it wasn’t you at all, could have been bad bulbs. As someone who grows hundreds of bulbs, I assure you, bad bulbs happen. Better luck next time.

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