Why Didn't My Paperwhites Bloom? January 2023

We're one month past Christmas.  I think that's enough time to pass for me to officially declare that my PaperWhites are a failure.  No blooms at all.  I bought them in early November - a week-plus ahead of when we traditionally buy and start our Amaryllis bulbs.  But...here's the key (I think):  I bought them from the orange big box store.  I planted them as directed:  in gravel.  And watered them in up to the middle of the bulbs.  They responded immediately.  And strongly.  With a thick, dense and vibrant root mat that came off of each of them.  They also shot up new green shoots from the top of the bulbs.  

Based on what I've done before (with Amaryllis bulbs) and what was suggested on the Web, I watered them in with a diluted alcohol mixture.  In an attempt to stunt their growth and keep them from 'flopping over' and getting too leggy.  

I last checked-in on these in mid-December.  More than a month after the roots emerged.  And they all had multiple green shoots and foliage that was standing upright.  At that time, I remarked that it felt like these bulbs had just stopped.  They grew up, put out new growth.  Then....stalled.

What can I say about them today?  

That these failed to launch.  They have NOT moved AT ALL in the five+ weeks since the last update.  

Here's what they look like in some photos below:

No blooms at all.  Not even flower stalks emerged.  Just strapy leaves. 

So, what happened? 

I think there is one (good) explanation.  And...maybe a second one.  Both...caused by me.

First...the source of the bulbs: Big Box store.  This has happened with forcing bulbs before as one that I picked up from Menards a few years back failed to launch, too.   Higher quality - and much more expensive bulbs from Wannemaker's have produced great results.  Garbage in, Garbage out kinda thing. 

The other reason?  Perhaps I either went TOO HEAVY or TOO SOON on the alcohol watering?  Could I have stunted them TOO much? 

Either way, I've tried Paperwhites and now I know that I don't *have to* do them again.  However...I do have the gravel (I'll need to fish it out of the container and store), so the bar to entry is lower next year.  If I do try again, it won't be with bulbs from a Big Box store. 


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