how can I prevent smelly H2O in paperwhites and amaryllis water w/gravel?
I am having a year of very slow growth with these bulbs in gravel. They are growing very slowly. Paperwhites have grown 3 inches since November 5th. I have been growing these for more years than I care to say...they are getting smelly and slimy.
I have been told to add bleach, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and a few others as well. Will any or all of these help? I am in the habit of keeping H2O just to the bottom 3rd, and rinsing out any slime. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
PS: I do have several amaryllis in peat that are also growing slowly, 4-6 inches since early November. They are in the same sunny window I usually start them in. Thanks for any info.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
I would actually recommend a bit of vodka. It will help keep the bacteria down that cause that smell. Bleach and vinegar will have a negative effect on the plants and, especially with bleach, may even kill them. Hydrogen peroxide will have little effect on the either the plants or the smelly water.
Vodka also has the added effect of shortening the stem, which means they are less likely to fall over.
Here is more info on using vodka: http://gardening.about.com/od/forcingandprechilling/qt/PaperWhites_Alc.htm
If you can, you should still change the water weekly.
When you are done growing your bulbs for the year, take them out of the container and then wash the container (and the rocks) in a 10% bleach solution. That will kill the rest of the bacteria that may be harboring in the container.
plain old rubbing alcohol is cheaper than vodka and a 10% solution will kill the bacteria as well as stunt growth and prevent them from flopping over