Pots of heavily scented hyacinths are delightful adorning the tables, shelves, and windowsills of your home in the gloomy depths of winter.
They are easy to grow, need just a little care, and if you can get the bulbs planted this month, you can time it to have beautiful blooms adorning your home for Christmastime, or to give away as gorgeous gifts.
In order to have hyacinths in bloom indoors over the next few months, you need to buy ‘prepared’ bulbs which means they have have already been treated by growers to a cold snap of dormancy, so are ready to flower earlier than normal.
Unlike planting outdoors, where bulbs need to be planted at depth and spaced out, bulbs for indoor planting can be planted on the surface of the compost, and crammed in.
You can grow hyacinth bulbs in pots of compost if the chosen container has drainage holes. Use bulb fibre, or gravel if it does not have drainage holes.
Or grow in hyacinth glasses which are curvy glasses designed to keep the bulb sitting above water. Growing hyacinths in a glass allows the root growth to be seen. Keep the water level below the base of the bulb and keep in the dark until the shoots show strong growth.
Our top ten tips for growing hyacinth bulbs right now in order to flower for Christmas are:
- Handle hyacinth bulbs with gloves as they can sometime cause skin irritation.
- Do not mix different hyacinth bulbs as different varieties develop at different rates.
- Three bulbs should fit perfectly in a 12cm (5in) pot.
- Fill the pots to within 5cm (2in) from the top and place the bulbs on top. Place the bulbs so the tips are just above the top of the container and position so that they are not touching each other or the side of the container.
- Water a little, then place pots or containers in a cool, dark place, ideally between 7-9C (44-48F), like a garage or cupboard, for 10-12 weeks. You can even pop a black bag over the top of them to keep them in darkness.
- Check weekly to make sure the soil is slightly moist.
- After 10-12 weeks, when the shoots are about 5-8cm (2-3in) high, move the pots into the light and warmth, ready to flower 2-3 weeks after that.
- Do not bring them into the light if the flower shoots are too small or the flower stems will be stunted.
- Keep the soil moist so the flowers develop properly.
- The flowers will last longer if they are kept in a cool room, away from strong sunlight, radiators, and other heat sources.
Once indoor hyacinths have finished flowering, plant them outside and they will bloom in subsequent years in spring.
Grow prepared hyacinths individually in small pots so you can bring each into the limelight as it comes into flower.