first week of December

These are all my hyacinth bulbs out of the dark so far.

hyacinth vases

After the first lot shown below from December 1st, I took more out the next day. I want to show how the bulbs look when they are ready to come out of the dark. Maybe some of this is my instinct and experience but I like making things as easy  as possible so anyone can do it.

the green flower bud is emerging from the bulb

forced hyacinth bulb

forced hyacinth bulb

sometimes you can see the green flower but sometimes you need to go by the shape, eg the Tye vase, left below

hyacinth vases

hyacinth vases

when the stem is opening up (and the bulge of the flower has moved up), they are ready to come out of the dark

forced hyacinth bulbs in hyacinth vases

The bulbs in the front, left and right, show the green flower emerging from the bulbs. The downside of a container with more than one bulb, whether bulb fibre or pebbles and water (as on the left), the bulbs may develop at different rates, eg the one in the middle is noticeably smaller. I guess I tend to bring the container out into the light when some bulbs are ready and hope the less developed bulbs catch up.

forced hyacinth bulbs

December 1st is the traditional time to get bulbs out of the dark if they are to bloom by Christmas. They need to have the bulge of the flower out of the bulb. This was my first lot out of the cellar.

hyacinth vases

Some of the bulbs have differently shaped buds depending on which variety, eg back left looks like Delft Blue, the small one in the frilled vase back right looks distinctive, can't remember the variety right now but I can say not Delft Blue.  Will check my notes later today and update which varieties are in each vase.

Tye hyacinth vase

the vase on the left is by GP Tye and marked as such on the bottom, the vase on the right is extremely similar but unmarked and I am certain it is NOT Tye, I have other similar examples which will be out of the cellar in coming weeks so I will be able to post pics of them soon

when these 2 vases are compared, they are extremely similar but I can see the vase behind on either side

update on the bulbs' progress

I had to go in the cellar today to check the bulbs, topping them up with water, as required. These are the pots and bulb bowls. One of the bulbs at the bottom right is pushing right out of the pots. I put a bit of soil in around the roots, the best I could.

Some of the bulbs in the bulb bowls look quite poor. If I hadn't forced hyacinths successfully in them before, based on these, I probably wouldn't carry on with this method, and I wouldn't use some of these bulb suppliers.

bulb bowl 1, Splendid Cornelia, so far so good, all have stems sprouting and some roots

hyacinth bulb bowl

bulb bowl 2, 2 Splendid Cornelia and 2 Delft Blue (I think, at some point things get confused with so many bulbs to start)

hyacinth bulb bowl

bulbs from bulb bowl 2, not good at all

bulb bowl 3, Miss Saigon (look terrible: split and mouldy, only 2 bulbs have sprouts)

hyacinth bulb bowl

bulbs from bulb bowl 3, very few roots

bulb bowl 4, Miss Saigon, variable roots

hyacinth bulb bowl

bulb bowl 5, Sky Jacket and Miss Saigon in the middle, all have short roots except middle bulb has none

hyacinth bulb bowl

Some bulbs in the vases are doing better than others, this one is one of the better ones, interesting as this isn't even an "official" hyacinth vase. The roots look great but not ready to come out of the cellar yet. The bulge of the flower has to come out from the bulb. Another few weeks and this will come inside and may be flowering for Christmas.

These two bulbs are completely rotten, they are sinking right down into the vases, and what a smell when I emptied the vases!

hyacinth vases

This is typical of some of the poorer bulbs, shriveled and no roots. Does not appear to have green shoot starting at the top, only the bulblet on the left appears to be growing.

The crocus bulb from the vase on the right was thoroughly mouldy and needed discarding, the one on the left is also mouldy but may bloom eventually.

starting the amaryllis

end of November

After about 10 days the amaryllis have green shoots starting. Also, below on the right, is an amethyst hyacinth vase I bought recently so had to get another bulb for it. The boxes of prepared hyacinth bulbs at the garden centre are looking pretty depleted, and most of the bulbs left are a bit soft and have green shoots. I think I found one of the better ones, with only the tiniest shoot, in the Jan Bos box but who knows if it really is that as the bulbs get mixed up. There's space on the window sill for a cat between the cat grass (Victor below) but once the hyacinth vases start coming up from the cellar every bit of space on the window sill will be taken up.

early November

3 amaryllis vases with enormous bulb (no shoots yet), I don't think I've ever had such large bulbs. The vase on the right is from Ikea. I think I had 3 at one time, 2 broke. I had some other good ones - like large hyacinth vases but they each got broken. The red one in the middle seems to be the most stable but the amaryllis bulb hardly fits in it this year.

amaryllis vases

At this time of year when I start taking lots of pics of vases on this windowsill I am reminded I need to clean it up! and get the ladder out and do the windws from outside.


Going near a garden centre this time of year is dangerous for me. I just wanted 2 hyacinth bulbs for these new cobalt blue vases and I came home with all this!

The stocks of prepared bulbs are limited now. All the white pearl hyacinth bulbs were not as firm as they might be and they all seemed to have bulblets. I would ordinarily remove the bulblets before starting the hyacinths but I thought I could see how long it takes for the bulblets to reach flowering - how many years. I didn't really think it through because when I got the bulbs home and went to put them in the vases they wouldn't fit and while deciding on the strategy of growing the bulblets I had gone a bit mad and bought 8 bulbs rather than the 2 I needed.

white pearl hyacinth vases

I presume the bulblets will grow through the compost and reach the light.

white pearl hyacinth bulbs in pots

I usually think I won't do amaryllis as they are rather expensive but then I see those huge bulbs and can't resist. They look massive in those vases. The clear vase I bought a few years ago as an amaryllis vase. It came in a box with a bulb. The red one I bought recently on ebay. It's the most stable amaryllis vase I've used.

While I was there I thought I might as well get some large Dutch crocus for my crocus bowl. The small species crocus I had were too small and would have fallen through. AND while I was there I couldn't resist having another go with anemones. I had that Harmony Orchid anemone self-seeding (see gardenwithoutdoors) and was impressed and I love those and ranunculus which the pack said they do well with.

end of October/ beginning of November

I checked on some of the bulb "pots" in the cellar today. I find watering things in the cellar a real pain. I can't see things well, I only have a watering can as a source of water which I have to carry in with me and there's no surface to put things down. I've topped up some of the vases as necessary. For some reason the purple vase had no water at all! I must have missed that one. Most of the vases have well-developed roots.

crocus vases with crocus bulbs

A motley assortment of pots with bulbs. I removed the top of the center bottom which was one stiff piece of bulb fibre and tried to put some compost on the hyacinth pushing out of the pot. I don't know what that very long seedling bottom right is. It was desperately trying to get some sun.

bulb pots with bulbs

the tins with the hyacinth bulbs below seem to be rather dry but also have mould - quite annoying

golden syrup tins with hyacinth bulbs

I bought 1 hyacinth bulb yesterday for a new Hornsea bulb pot (Cirrus design) with Socks on the window sill and Polly Pocket on the table

Hornsea bulb pot

here are some dried bulbs from last year that I am trying to bring back to life

these show how determined hyacinth bulbs are to grow -that's what makes hyacinths so good for forcing, they will grow no matter what

strange things happening at the garden centre

I was surprised to find Skyline prepared hyacinth bulbs at the garden centre today. I never even heard of this variety. I've looked through a number of bulb catalogues and ordered from half a dozen web sites, none of them had Skyline! I guess others haven't heard of this either as the bin was almost full and the Delft Blue bin was almost empty. I had no choice but to try  Skyline as I have a couple new hyacinth vases needing bulbs. The bulbs do look large and reasonably fresh and unblemished.

skyline hyacinth bulbs and vases

The green vase on the left (above) has a bulb I put in a couple weeks ago. The roots are looking great. This "pinched" or "dimpled" hyacinth vase (below) is like the ones being sold at the garden centre for £1.49. See more on vase prices at the Hyacinth Vases on ebay page.

I use anything I fancy to force a hyacinth, just needs to hold the bulb above the water, this is a rose bowl with some polished stones in to help the roots to anchor

I had 4 of these hyacinth Skyline bulbs left so planted them in these golden syrup tins, then into the cellar.

I bought this vase the other day - tall antique glass, bit wonky and lopsided - exquisite! just the sort of hyacinth vase I love.

trying to organise more bulbs

I've been trying to organise more bulb forcing - but I'm doing it in the garden so this is one of those times when the garden outdoors meets the garden indoors. Some of the pots I am leaving outside as the bulbs (eg narcissus and muscari) did better there than inside last year.

I always use fresh bulbs for forcing. They need that extra energy. I try to plant the spent bulbs in the garden but it can be difficult if the ground is frozen and I don't have room, especially with the long roots on the bulb which requires a lot of digging to make room for them.  These are some bulbs that were left in the syrup tins which I used as pots last year. Even though they are dried out some life is left in them - green shoots and green on the bulb. I am going to attempt to bring them back to life. It does show how bulbs want to grow, especially hyacinths.

there are green shoots on the hyacinth and muscari bulblets

the muscari bulbs have a lot of bulblets

muscari bulbs

I have planted all the bulblets in fresh compost

muscari bulblets

after a disappointing season last year I decided not to do the large Dutch crocus but I had some of the larger species crocus which will probably work in these vases so I'll give them a try. I find the crocus need the water in the vase right up to the bulb to spur it into action. They aren't as cooperative as hyacinths!

starting all the hyacinth bulbs

the bulb bowls are not very forgiving of bulb defects - the bulbs are all on display whereas imperfections are not so visible if the bulb is in the cup of a hyacinth vase

bulb bowls with hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

only this bulb bowl is large enough to hold 5 bulbs, the others are too small and the bulbs are too big

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

I received the remaining bulb orders a couple days ago so was able to spend yesterday (after it stopped raining) putting them in vases, filling the vases with water (to just below the bulb) and putting them in the cellar.  

hyacinth vases and bulbs

one of my special animal friends came in the back door to see what I was doing

after choosing which hyacinth variety to go in each vase:

hyacinth vases and bulbs

the new bulbs are looking, at least superficially, better than the ones I received last week, Sky Jacket:

sky jacket hyacinth bulbs

prepared Delft Blue

Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

comparison of 2 different supplier's Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

Splendid Cornelia hyacinth bulbs (unprepared) which I am going to use exactly as I use the prepared bulbs, ie into the cellar for 12-15 weeks, I've done that before and had reasonable results

Splendid Cornelia hyacinth bulbs

Miss Saigon hyacinth bulbs:

Miss Saigon hyacinth bulbs

hyacinth bulbs

Anne Marie hyacinth bulbs:

Anne Marie hyacinth bulbs

start of the forcing season 2015/2016


I received one delivery of prepared hyacinth bulbs this week so still awaiting 3 more. It's difficult to sort out all the vases and which bulbs are going in each if I don't have all the bulbs but I thought I should start the ones I have. Fitzroy (neighbour's cat) keeping me company.

hyacinth bulbs and vases

Some of the Delft Blue bulbs are not looking very good but I'm going to see how they do and see how other supplier bulbs are in case it's common among all this year's bulbs and see if the mould and splitting affects the flowers. One of the Fairy White bulbs was completely rotten, soft and oozing. Surprisingly I've never had such a bulb but as last year I just chose my own from the garden centre bins I could leave one of those behind.

mouldy hyacinth bulbs

I couldn't leave the vases on the table outside for long as the foxes regularly jump up there.

starting hyacinth bulbs in vases


first week of September

I have noted the prepared hyacinths I have on order; still awaiting deliveries. 

Of course, I cannot resist the odd impulse purchase. I have tried a few bulb items from Sainsbury's in the past so wanted to see what this year's bulbs were like. They don't even tell you the variety on the packs so these are certainly for the casual gardener. Still unsure if these are going in garden indoors or outdoors. Last year the daffodils did better and earlier outside than inside, same with the crocus. I'll certainly put them in pots even if they are outdoors. The hyacinths I will probably use in pots/containers some indoors and some outdoors.

indoor bulbs blooming outside, end of 2014/2015 forcing season

these tete-a-tete daffodils were inside but no sign of buds, after a few weeks outdoors they are blooming - well after the daffs that were outside from day 1 finished and here's a hyacinth on a plant that was blooming indoors weeks ago, now having an unexpected second flush of flowers

these crocus were some of my indoor bulbs now blooming outside, I thought they were finished and I discovered they were still blooming


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