another hyacinth vase

That white vase is just too small for those enormous amaryllis bulbs (see pic below) so I decided to try it with a hyacinth bulb instead. These Delft Blue bulbs are very large anyway so certainly seem good for this white vase. It's rather late to start a hyacinth in a vase but not completely unreasonable, within a feasible timeframe. 

white vase with hyacinth bulb

amaryllis vases

I saw some amaryllis bulbs a few days ago, the first I've seen this year, so thought I would buy them in case I didn't come across any others. Actually I did see some last week but they came with a pot and I just wanted the bulbs.

amaryllis vases

On the far left is my first amaryllis vase which I bought a few years ago at a garden centre being sold as an amaryllis vase. It came packaged in a box with an amaryllis bulb. Next is what I think is an "official" amaryllis vase although it was not sold as such but only because I don't think the seller (on ebay) realised what it was. I did have a similar one sold as an amaryllis vase but unfortunately it broke. Next is not an official amaryllis vase but one that I think is quite suited to holding an amaryllis bulb. The bulbs I bought the other day are massive and too big for that vase. The next vase on the far right is from Ikea and not an "official" amaryllis vase. I had 3 of these but I just broke one while trying to rinse out the dust. I had broken one while still at Ikea so they are somewhat fragile. This was a few years ago that I bought them from Ikea, who no longer sell this style of vase. These bulbs, being so massive, are somewhat expensive, especially compared to other smaller varieties such as hyacinths so I don't do them every year. These were £8.99 each so I just bought 4.

As with forcing any bulb in water, the vase is filled with water to just below the bulb. The existing roots have always rotted for me but I just remove them and replace the water with fresh, as required. Amaryllis are quite quick to bloom and do not need any time in the dark. I will have to check my notes from previous years but I think they take about 6 weeks from putting in water to having blooms.

using a truffle bottle to force a tulip bulb in water

I was lucky enough to find another truffle bottle. They are a very good size to use as a tulip vase. Tulips bulbs vary enormously in size and I'm not expert on them but this variety (which I chose by size at the garden centre this week, I'll check the name) is a perfect size.

truffle bottle with tulip bulbs

There is variation of size within the range of 10 bulbs in the pack so I chose the best one for this vase, filled it with water and put it in the cellar with the rest of the bulb vases and pots.

truffle bottle with tulip bulb

I love cats, especially black cats, so I like seeing this one at one of my local garden centres. Behind them you can see the hyacinth vases they have for sale: brand new, I think they were £2.99. This and other new vases sold at garden centres this time of year are misdescribed on ebay as "vintage". Please take note! and don't pay a premium for an "antique" that is anything but that you can buy new retail.

black cat at Boma garden centre with hyacinth vases in the background

While I was there I bought my amaryllis bulbs for this year. They're enormous! (photo to be added tomorrow)

some new bulb vases to try

I got some new bulb vases on ebay to try. Well, they aren't official "bulb" vases but I'm trying them out as bulb vases. They are quite small so I'm using 2 crocus bulbs and a small tulip bulb. They're just sitting in the other vases to keep them upright.

These are the hooks they came with but I don't think they're going to work for me. With one end in the vase it's in the way of the bulb - and the roots when they eventually grow and extend into the vase.

hanging vases hooks

forcing hyacinths on Gardeners World and more crocus for Christmas

Monty Don actually forcing hyacinths on Gardeners World! (last night, Oct 4th) I don't think they've ever done that, certainly not since I've been watching in recent years.

I ran out of steam with these crocus bulbs so they've been sitting on the table for weeks. My squirrels have disappeared or all the bulbs would have been eaten. I did buy some vases on ebay suitable for crocus bulbs - on impulse - so I thought I should get the crocus bulbs started until the vases arrive in the post (watch this space). I had decided to get rid of these vases to thin my collection but I unpacked them again to use them temporarily.

crocus bulbs in vases

forcing crocus for Christmas

The first crocus I bought were too small to rest on top of the holes of the crocus bowl. They were "snow crocus". I needed some large Dutch crocus instead. I planted the snow crocus in the terracotta pot instead.

how I force hyacinth bulbs for Christmas

First I take all my hyacinth vases out of the cellar. Then I try to decide which colour hyacinth would look best in each vase and note the variety on my list. I stopped here after doing about two thirds so I could fill the vases with water and put them back in the cellar. I make sure not to fill them too high. The bulbs must not be sitting in water or they will rot. I put them back in the cellar (a dark place) for 12 to 15 weeks. Twelve weeks from now takes me up to the end of November, perfect time for the vases to come out of the cellar to have hyacinths in flower for Christmas. If they need a few weeks longer I'll have flowers in January.

hyacinth vases and bulbs

With about a third of the vases left on the table it gives me more room and makes the task a little easier.

hyacinth vases and bulbs

I break off any bulblets before I put the bulb in the vase: 1. it won't develop properly, 2. it will take energy away from the main flower.

hyacinth bulblet

Unfortunately it doesn't show very well but this uranium hyacinth vase was glowing a bit, especially as the sun was going down. I use the plastic box to carry the vases into the cellar to reduce the risk of dropping them and so I can carry more than 2 at a time.

uranium hyacinth vase

My last few vases - rather boring clear ones - they can have the last bulbs. I have all the choices noted on my print-out which I will use to update my spreadsheet. I have a few bulblets there I can plant. I've tried that before but not much came of them - my usual problem - I didn't water them enough.

hyacinth vases

I had to use the table in the garden as I didn't have room inside - and it saved me carrying all the vases up the stairs from the patio to the kitchen.

hyacinth vases

I said yesterday I was going to mail order some more bulbs but after looking at the catalogues again last night I don't think I need to when I can get reasonable bulbs locally and there aren't any particular varieties I really want. I do need a few more bulbs for my bulb bowls and pots but I'm sure my local garden centre will be fine.

I thinned my small vases quite alot and these few are all I have left. Crocus and tulips take such a long time to grow their roots and bloom and the flowers last such a short time (especially crocus) that I decided I didn't want to do too many but I will get some to put in these vases.

tulip and crocus vases

Now that the vases are started, I need to start the bowls. The hyacinth bulbs are so large I don't think I can fit 5 on the smaller bowls. The bowl with 7 holes is for crocus.

bulb bowls and pots

bulb bowls and pots

bulb bowls and pots

these hyacinth bulbs are enormous, I don't recall them ever being so big, I guess the weather was better for them this year

hyacinth bulbs in bowl

definitely the start of the new forcing season

The bulbs are now readily available. Last year the prepared hyacinth bulbs were so late, it was well into September before they were available. But this year they seem to be right on time - I bought my first ones almost 2 weeks ago (August 25th).   I was on holiday so it wasn't my local garden centre. I was shocked to be charged £1.30 per bulb which were 16/17 cm. Today I went to my local garden centre  and bought the above selection of 17/18 cm bulbs (huge Delft Blue bulbs on the right) for 80p each with a discount for quantity. I don't know what's up with that. The above do have some splits and blemishes  but I'd rather have those for 80p than "nicer" ones for £1.30 but I'm only guessing that might be the difference. Some of my vases do need smaller bulbs and some larger so I'm happy to have a variety of sizes.

I'm getting at least a few of every variety I see. These are today's by variety:

Delft Blue

prepared Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

Jan Bos

prepared Jan Bos hyacinth bulbs

City of Haarlem

prepared City of Haarlem hyacinth bulbs

Pink Pearl

prepared Pink Pearl hyacinth bulbs

White Pearl

White Pearl prepared hyacinth bulbs

Sky Jacket

prepared Sky Jacket hyacinth bulbs


These are the packaged ones I bought today.

I haven't seen Marie or Ibis before so although pink is not my favourite colour, pink-coloured bulbs tend to be the earliest so thought I would try them. Woodstock as well has been early for me although the flowers haven't been very good but I'll give them another chance.

These are not "prepared" so I put them in the fridge, where I will leave them for 6 weeks.




This is the first batch of bulbs I bought in August, smaller than today's and a couple of different varieties. This has Delft Blue (of course!), Fondant, Carnegie, Blue Star, City of Haarlem.

I'm going to mail order some of the varieties I didn't find at the garden centre and probably more Delft Blue and some other varieties so I can compare results.

planning for the new forcing season

bulb vasesEven though I'm very busy with my garden "withoutdoors" I can't help thinking about starting my hyacinth bulbs "withindoors"  in September. Every year the first task is counting how many bulbs I need to buy, firstly counting how many vases I have. I can't resist buying more every year even though I have quite a number. These are some recent purchases. I just love those tall intensely coloured Victorian vases so couldn't resist those and the terracotta squat vase is a rare find. The clear vase on the right is not an "official" hyacinth vase but I figure a small bulb will fit on the top. It has that distinctive Victorian fern engraving.

The large vase on the left is for an amaryllis bulb. I do vary my plans every year. Last year I didn't do any amaryllis but I did miss them and now I have a new vase to try I'm going to do some this year. Other plans include fewer crocus (they last such a short time) and fewer tulips (lots of bulbs did not bloom last year).

finally updated my hyacinth forcing results for 2012/2013

I have finally had another look at my hyacinth forcing results for this year. Last year I was so meticulous with my records but this year things were much more haphazard and as some bulbs failed I moved bulbs around between vases - something I never did before. I can see from my pics I had some beautiful hyacinth blooms, even if some results were uneven.

forced hyacinths in vases

I also just had too many vases! Less is more. I have thinned my collection - probably only a little as I also couldn't resist buying a  few more - but I think it will be easier to keep track of fewer bulbs. This summer I'll go through my vases and see what the new total is and if I can thin any more.

forced hyacinths in vases

I have put the info about my results at the 2012/2013 Forcing Results page but here is a repeat of my summary and plans for next year:

Delft Blue is still my favourite - a reliable variety every year. Sky Jacket was good and I will buy more for the next forcing year. If one wants early blooms in December, it just has to be pink and purple-pink (as opposed to purple-blue) varieties such as Pink Pearl, Pink Sensation, Woodstock and Ann Mary (going by past years as well as this year) even though pink is not my favourite colour. For white hyacinths I'm not that impressed with Aiolos so will go back to Innocence for next year and/or try another white variety, eg White Pearl which I don't think I've ever grown. Blue Star I need to try again and keep better track as I can't say for sure how they did.


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