Belly up to the Bar with your Begonia

Your plants could sure could use a drink -- a little whiskey, vodka, gin, or tequila could keep them from falling over.

Seriously! A new Cornell study finds that a touch of booze is a great way to keep certain houseplants from getting tipsy. Liquor, when properly used, can stunt plant growth by 30 to 50 percent, reducing stem and leaf growth while keeping flowers as large, fragrant and long-lasting as usual. It appears that alcohol stunts the growth of plants. It simply might be water stress, that is, the alcohol makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water.

You might ask how one gets the idea for a (sweet) senior research project that combines alcohol and plants? Evidentially a "gardener" wrote into the NYT garden editor claiming that gin had prevented some paperwhite narcissi from growing too tall and floppy.

Wanna try this experiment at home? To get a 5 percent solution from 80-proof liquor, which is 40 percent alcohol (such as gin, vodka, whiskey, rum or tequila), add one part liquor to seven parts water. Don't use wine or beer though it seems the sugar content in them is deleterious to the plants health.

FYI: A popular series of Begonias are the aptly named cocktail series: Brandy, Vodka, Whiskey, and Gin. Coincidence? I think not.

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