Welcome to my blog about bulb forcing

bulb bowls hyacinth cat

The bulb forcing year starts in August/September buying bulbs. Then the bulbs quietly grow roots in the dark until the beginning of December when they are brought into the light and warmth and can begin blooming from Christmas day onwards when it is magic to have flowers and scent indoors in the middle of winter.

I force about 200 hyacinth bulbs each year. I try different hyacinth varieties from different bulb companies and compare how they perform. I'm always trying to formulate the best ways to force hyacinths and this is the documentation of my results. (please note that all text and images are copyright)

more hyacinths out of the dark

I think the hyacinths I took out of the dark the last few days may be my final ones out before Christmas. The shoots are a bit anemic as they've been in the dark but they green up after a few days in the light.

forced hyacinth bulbs vases

forced hyacinth bulbs vases

these came out of the dark a couple weeks ago and have really greened up

forced hyacinths vases

forced hyacinths vases

of the ones just out of the dark, the two on the right don't have very good roots but they're still growing

forced hyacinth bulbs vases

I don't know why some hyacinth bulbs just don't get going with roots

Ideal Stem Shape for a Forced Hyacinth

I just took this hyacinth out from the dark today (Dec 6th). It shows an ideal shape for the stem of the hyacinth when it is ready to come out of the dark. The bulge of the flower has clearly grown up out of the bulb.

forced hyacinth in hyacinth vase

first hyacinths out of the dark

The hyacinths need to be checked to see if they are ready to come out of the dark. The bulge of the flower needs to have moved out of the bulb. These seem to be ready. I'm surprised I have so many (18) ready to come into the light when they were started so late.

Even though the general length of time to keep the hyacinths in the dark initially is 12 weeks, it could be less. Check the bulbs and go by how they look. Of those first 18 out of the dark, 3 have been in the dark for 7 weeks, 9 have been in the dark for 8 weeks and 4 for 9 weeks.

Of the first 18, 7 are Anne Marie (usually the first in bloom), 5 Pacific Ocean (I haven't used these before but seem to be early), 2 Delft Blue, 2 Sainsburys, 1 Splendid Cornelia and 1 Caribbean Dream.

forced hyacinths out of the dark

the hyacinth flower can be seen between the leaves of the emerging stem, the others will be similar even if the flower is not visible, the shape of the stem shows the bulge of the flower

hyacinth bulbs

these hyacinths are not ready to come out of the dark yet

forced hyacinths not ready to come out of the dark

these hyacinths are not ready to come out of the dark yet, although the one front right is on the edge

hyacinths not ready to come out of the dark

As well as checking the hyacinth bulbs to see if they should be taken into the light, they should be checked for water levels but I find they generally don't need topping up. The vase below is typical. The bulb has acted like a plug to prevent the water evaporating

broste copenhagen vase with forced hyacinth vase

the more open vases have evaporation, I topped up the square vase on the left which had gone down to half full, it also shows the different growth rates of different bulbs and the problems of containers with more than 1 bulb, some bulbs are ready, some are not

hyacinths in the dark

I've brought those 18 hyacinth vases into the house. If I put many more on this windowsill Victor (or any of the other cats) won't have room to sit on it. The hyacinths really shouldn't be by a radiator but I have limited space.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

amaryllis bulbs grow so quickly

this amaryllis bulb has two fat flower stems (on either side of the leaves in the centre) emerging after only 2 weeks

amaryllis bulb in amaryllis vase

a week later

amaryllis bulb in amaryllis vase

new hyacinth vase from Sainsbury's

I saw Sainsbury's had a new hyacinth vase for sale so had to get a closer look. It's a little late to be starting hyacinth bulbs (14-11-2017) but I had to see this new product.

I didn't notice the colour when it was inside the box - it's not very nice. I thought it would be quite basic and it is. Convenience is the main thing going for it.

Sainsburys hyacinth vase

sainsburys hyacinth vase

I filled it with water to just under the bulb and put it in the cellar with the rest of my hyacinth vases.

sainsburys hyacinth vase

late bulb purchases

yes, there are still hyacinth bulbs at the garden centre, this was my last vase needing a bulb

hyacinth vase with hyacinth bulb

while at the garden centre I saw they have some huge amaryllis bulbs and made an impulse purchase, it is so large I think it's too large for this amaryllis vase

amaryllis vase with amaryllis bulb

November, starting last hyacinth bulbs for 2017

I was away for a week in October and didn't have time to finish all my bulbs - quite unlike me as I usually do them immediately in September to increase my chances of Christmas flowers but this year is a bit later. Going to Korea for my son's wedding took priority. I have 10 hyacinth bulbs left.

hyacinth bulbs

a quick look in the boxes in the cellar and I have 9 vases left to use

hyacinth bulbs and hyacinth vases

I forgot that pickle jar, that will take that last bulb

pickle jar with hyacinth bulb

I do have at least 1 more vase but no more bulbs. If I have time I'll pop down to the garden centre and see if they have any more bulbs. I know Sainsburys is out of stock.

Of course, when I was in Korea I wanted to see if they sold hyacinth bulbs. Some spent dried bulbs in a basket outside this flower shop/cafe was the closest I could find. At one point they had hyacinth bulbs in Seoul - intrigued to find out more.

Flower and Cafe Do sejong village seoul

Flower and Cafe Do sejong village seoul

close-up of one of those baskets at the front

spent hyacinth bulbs flower and cafe do sejong village Seoul

start hyacinths as soon as possible for Christmas flowers

I think, as my mother-in-law (who started me off on forcing hyacinth bulbs in vases) would say, I think I've broken the back of it. (She was in the navy during the war and still used some naval expressions.) I started off with about 150 bulbs and am now down to about 25. I was going to plant some of those Caribbean Dream hyacinths in the garden for a comparison but realised I needed some very large bulbs: in those black Prattware vases, the "unofficial" quilted pronged, jar below, so used most of them.

hyacinth bulbs and vases

that little tin above shows the hyacinth roots pushing the bulb right out, I've tried to add a little more material around it, I don't know any other solution for this which happens with a few bulbs every year, depending on how I planted them

EIC sugar jar with hyacinth bulb

 

 

 

this jar needs a large bulb

 

I've never used it before; will see how it works

 

 

 

 

 

 

hyacinth bulbs and vases

I meant to take a photo of all the bulb bowls before I put them in the cellar (but forgot).

bulb bowls

I'm trying to get a few vases ready each day with the remaining bulbs. Pacific Ocean on the left, Blue Jacket on the right. Seeing them next to each other they are distinct but if there were a number of bulbs mixed up I couldn't tell them apart.

hyacinth bulbs

these bulbs don't look that great, going to save them for potting up in a container

hyacinth bulbs

these are some of my favourite vases, they just happened to get to the back of the box, usually I'd do these first

hyacinth vases

hyacinth vases and bulbs

Even though this amaryllis has been in the vase below on my windowsill for months, I only noticed how green it was the other day, I lifted it out of the vase, which was completely dry, to see dry roots. Amaryllis, like hyacinths, want to grow no matter what, even without water.

amaryllis

I filled up the vase with water, removed the dried leaves and replaced the bulb in it. I think it might bloom again.

amaryllis

beginning of October 2017

I just received my last bulb delivery. Apparently the weather has been quite bad for the new bulbs so there's been a delay in dispatch. I've had a few substitutes (sadly no City of Bradford available) and trying a new variety so curious to see how they (Pink Elephant and Pacific Ocean) perform. Unlike previous tries with new varieties I'm going to plant half outside so I can properly judge in case they don't like growing in a vase on water alone.

hyacinth bulbs for forcing

feeling a bit overwhelmed so starting them in small batches

hyacinth vases and bulbs

Some of the bulbs I started 2 weeks ago have strong roots. Hyacinths are so great to force as they want to grow and are so unfussy about doing so.

hyacinth vases

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