Eight Weeks of Chilling
The second hardest part is letting them chill long enough. As I mentioned in an earlier post about forcing hyacinths, they need to chill for eight weeks. If you don’t start them chilling soon enough, they may not bloom that much earlier than your outdoor hyacinths.
Bigger Is Better
Notice I said order them. I have never been as happy with bulbs from a big box store as I have with top-size bulbs from a reputable mail order house. The bulbs from the big box store are smaller, and produce smaller flowers. Some of them are scarcely big enough for the hyacinth bulb glasses I have. But, if I have forgotten to order bulbs for forcing, then the big-box ones are better than nothing.
This past fall I was in the middle of a major house move, and bulb ordering was far from my mind. But once settled in, I realized there were some kitchen windowsills just crying out for plants. I picked some up in early November from a local place and started them chilling right away. Every time I walk by I get a whiff of hyacinth fragrance. If they were right on the kitchen table when I was eating my breakfast, they might be a bit too fragrant. But over there by the window, they are just right, and I had the pleasure of setting them up and watching them emerge, gradually revealing the buds. The hyacinth glass allows me to see root development as well.
It’s as close as this Northerner gets to gardening in winter.