Forced Hyacinths

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

forced hyacinths

These hyacinths blooming indoors are making the end of winter more bearable.

Forcing hyacinths is not that difficult. The hardest part is remembering to order them early and start chilling them soon enough. If you want them to bloom in mid-January, you should start chilling them by October 23rd. At that point in the gardening season, you are more likely to be frantically planting the last of your bulbs outside, and aren’t thinking yet about the plants that will get you through the winter.

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.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

Comments on this entry are closed.

alanc230 March 8, 2012, 9:27 pm

These hyacinths are lovely. I hope the picture and your description will inspire me to do likewise next year. I miss having flowering plants.

Casey March 6, 2012, 2:44 pm

Your hyacinths are amazing. They are really easy to grow, and give such a great scent. It’s one of my favorite plants.

Dee/reddirtramblings February 27, 2012, 5:41 pm

I love forced Hyacinths because of the scent. I’m so impressed you have such good luck with them.

Debra February 27, 2012, 11:48 am

Thank you for this beautiful post – and great tips, Kathy! I have never chilled my hyacinth bulbs, but I do plan on putting a few in my hyacinth vases to see how they do. You’ve inspired me to hurry up and get that started! Nothing compares to the amazing deep plum and purple colors of some of the varieties. I just saw a huge display – in the ground on February 25th – at the Dallas Arboretum. Stunning! I’ll send you a photo soon.

Hanns February 27, 2012, 8:13 am

Reading this reminds me of the old days when still living in Europe. A few inside plants and flowers in early spring… I guess we are lucky here in Australia where everything grows all year round.

Layanee February 27, 2012, 6:56 am

That is surely one of the earth’s most beautiful scents. I have some in a pot which I just now pulled in from the chilling garden. No sign of them yet. Soon and if it doesn’t happen, there is always the grocery store for a few pick me up plants.

Frances February 26, 2012, 7:39 pm

They are wonderful, Kathy. Do you chill them in a refrigerator? I agree that the online offerings are so much more fun, especially for hyacinths.

Kathy Purdy February 26, 2012, 8:13 pm

They chilled for 8 weeks in the refrigerator before I put one in a hyacinth glass and the rest in pebbles.