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

Sevres bulb pot at the Art of the Garden exhibit

I went to the Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden exhibit at the Queens Gallery earlier this week where I saw this Sevres bulb pot. I'm always interested to see how bulbs are grown indoors.

Sevres bulb pot

when the garden indoors meets the garden outdoors

at this time of year there's some overlap with bulbs indoors and bulbs outdoors

this little pot I had planted with crocus was inside, I put it outside when all the crocus appeared to be spent but at the end of March I see this crocus is blooming in the pot outside

early spring crocus

this pot of muscari was outside but I've brought it inside for a bit of colour after all the other bulbs indoors are finished


these tulips have been outside but when I brought them inside recently they burst into bloom, certainly better than the tulips I had in the truffle bottles inside (after a period in the cellar) that never bloomed properly, these are Van Tubergen's miniature tulips from Sainsburys - seem as good as the bulbs from the garden centre

the non-blooming tulip bulbs in the truffle bottles, below

The golden syrup tin on the right and the squirrel planter to the right of that have tete-a-tete daffodils and have been indoors since I planted them up last autumn, none of which are showing any buds whereas the pots to the left and in bloom and looking fabulous have been outside since being planted up with tete-a-tete daffodils last autumn.

Muscari in bloom having been outside since last autumn.

the muscari in the cat pot were supposed to be forced indoors but after period in the cellar I had to put it outside with such extensive leaf growth

still waiting for any buds on the muscari in the M+S jug

recent blooms

now that the irises shown below have finished the muscari is now the focus of this rack of pots, outside the muscari are blooming as well (pic to follow), there's no forcing these, muscari will bloom when they are good and ready! regardless of M+S and other shops selling them as forcing bulbs


a close-up of some of the irises on the windowsill

a whole view of the plants shown in the close-up above

crocus blooms after they've been inside on the windowsill a couple days

a period outside has helped these bulbs, the hyacinth has a second bloom and the crocus has a couple more buds ready to open

some time outside and then being brought inside has forced these irises to bloom, as well as the crocus

yellow crocus just brought inside

I was just tidying up the patio and saw these yellow crocus buds on this crocus so I brought the rack of pots inside and a little while later it has burst into bloom, I assume because of the warmth indoors.

another crocus in bloom

and a couple days later:

purple large Dutch crocus indoors

I just can't stop taking pics of this crocus, it's just a perfect example of an idoor bloom, if only all my bulbs could turn out so beautiful

purple large Dutch crocus indoors

purple large Dutch crocus

purple large Dutch crocus

forcing (or not) muscari, also known as grape hyacinths

In my experience muscari will not bloom until they are good and ready and not a day before. There's no forcing them. The jug of muscari (below) was from M+S and has luxuriant leaf growth but no sign of any buds. The little silver pot next to it I planted up myself, also no buds. And in the following pic are some pots with muscari with the same leaf growth but no buds. Some I attempted to force but moved them from the cellar to outdoors when the leaves were so large.



this is a close-up (below) of the white pot (above): long-leaved muscari and hyacinths in the middle


It's also time to consider the results of forcing iris. Aside from a couple of flowers most of the bulbs are now shriveled. Iris were in the front row below: a Golden Syrup tin, kitsch vase with the stylised peacocks, Shorter bluebird trough and a couple of the terracotta pots.

forced iris reticulata

last hyacinths, Little Beauty tulips

these are the last hyacinths I had indoors, time to shift attention to outdoors where the first hyacinths are coming out, when I lifted these bulbs to check them they had no roots

Little Beauty tulips

Little Beauty tulips

starting a review of the 2014/2015 bulb forcing season

There is a natural variation in the bulb's ability to come into flower. I can't see any other explanation for some of the results I'm seeing.

Why didn't one of these White Pearl hyacinths bloom, when it was in a similar vase, started at the same time and given the same growing conditions?

hyacinth in hyacinth vase

at last, in mid-January, some "normal" looking hyacinths

Delft Blue forced hyacinths in vases

This crocus bowl is not very successful; as most of the bulbs are not touching the water? It's difficult to find a bulb that is the right size to touch the water but not so small that it falls in. Compare the crocus bowl with that blue and white pot on the windowsill in the background; I think just about every crocus bulb in it bloomed.

crocus bowl

I have had some wonderful results with the crocus bulbs but if one looks carefully, the same bulb has produced multiple buds. 3 of the 5 Spring Beauty crocus in this Shorter and Son trough have bloomed, one with 3 flowers, one with two and one with 1 flower. A previous blog entry below shows the geese trough, also with Spring Beauty crocus, so that seems to be a good variety of very small bulbs that will fit in the Shorter and Son troughs. What did people in the 1930s actually use them for?

crocus spring beauty in Shorter trough

a week later and new blooms still coming; this crocus Spring Beauty has been a great performer

crocus spring beauty

Although these are mostly wilted, it shows how many flowers will be produced by one bulb - if it actually flowers.

crocus firefly

that new crocus bud above, wide open below

large Dutch crocus

I think with these (below) it's time to call it a day. If they haven't flowered by now, they aren't going to. What I'm seeing is lots of buds but they are dried and wilting inside before they actually flower.

crocus bulbs in vases

I'm also still hopeful for more iris blooms. This one just opened up in the last few days. According to my notes I planted two varieties of Iris Reticulata: Pauline and "Dwarf". Not sure which one this is.


What is it about yellow hyacinths? They just don't force in vases as well as other colours. Hyacinth Gypsy Princess is better than City of Haarlem but still not as good as others. Pics to follow.

amaryllis in forcing vases

a few days after the pic below, I did a double-take, doesn't that windowsill look kind've empty, above? the middle amaryllis had fallen down, that didn't take long! so far the red vase is the best (ie most stable) amaryllis vase I've tried

I've had to move the amaryllis downstairs. Even though they keep falling over I think they look so spectacular I just move them upright again - until the next fall.

amaryllis vases


I've put the above amaryllis in the center of the window sill left free after other vases had spent flowers and really above a radiator is the worst place for bulbs! I'm making an exception for the amaryllis as I don't have any place else to put them.


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