Pure Pleasure with Mr Bulb

I've been picking up bulb forcing  leaflets from garden centres for a number of years. This one was produced by the International Flower Bulb Centre Hillegom.

Forcing Flower Bulbs Pure Pleasure

Growing Indoor Bulbs Successfully with Mr Bulb





This was produced by the Wincester Growers (WB on the back).

See these complete leaflets and some others at the Bulb Forcing Leaflets page.




Byzanta ware vase

Ceramic and terracotta hyacinth vases are rather rare. This wasn't described as a hyacinth vase but from the shape and size it certainly looks like a hyacinth vase to me.  I had one final hyacinth bulb kicking around to try in it. I have never tried growing a hyacinth in a vase without a cold, dark period but as it's the end of January  I'm not going to put it in the cellar now. I'm going to leave it out and see how it does. BTW the blue and white vase in the photo below is ceramic as well but it is not an "official" hyacinth vase - I'm just using it as one and the brown vase in that photo is indeed a terracotta hyacinth vase.

Byzanta ware

last bulbs out of the cellar

As it was almost the end of January I decided to take the remaining bulbs out of the cellar even though some didn't look ready to come out. The two on the right look ready, the six in the middle I'm really not sure about and the one on the left looks decidedly unready (another double-stemmed bulb).

last hyacinth bulbs out of cellar end of January

Three in the middle (terracotta, tall green X and tall cranberry glassroots) have no roots at all.

hyacinth bulbs with no roots

double-stemmed hyacinth bulb

A close-up of the latest double-stemmed bulb.








amaryllis end of January


The last amaryllis.












panorama of bulbs end of January

red tulips and double-stemmed hyacinths

I'm still experimenting with what bulbs work best in these Shorter and Son flower troughs, the main problem being finding small enough bulbs. I think these red tulips (Red Hunter) are a good fit being quite small and producing some very nice flowers on reasonably-sized stems, ie not too tall  (sometimes forcing bulbs can produce leggy stems).

red tulips in Shorter and Son flower trough

Here they are a couple days later. I am very impressed that they've all bloomed. (They bent over leaning towards the sun. I turned the trough the other way to encourage them to bend the other way to straighten up.)

red tulips in Shorter and Son flower trough

forced tulip in truffle bottle


Another tulip variety in the truffle bottle is also performing well, Little Princess. I'm still improvising tulip vases as I still haven't found any. I've reached the conclusion that they do not exist.








I have more double-stemmed hyacinths appearing every day. I'm intrigued about why these have suddenly appeared this year when I've never had them before. I'm not sure of the total. I'll have to count up how many I've had.

double-stemmed Delft Blue hyacinths

Here's another double-stemmed example. I had trouble taking a pic that showed both the main flower and these buds on the secondary stem that hasn't emerged yet so I'm afraid this will have to do.

double-stemmed hyacinth

crocus and red tulips

These are my best crocus ever with multiple flowering stems. These are my second flush of crocus blooms and for a while I was wondering if they would grow at all as some didn't even have roots a few weeks ago but they have certainly caught up now.

forced crocus in bloom in vases

These crocus have not performed so well. Of this variety I only have 1 bloom which I almost missed. It's already wilting and I didn't even manage to get 1 photo of it at its best. The other bulbs are rotting underneath.

flower trough with forced crocus in bloom

When I noticed the bulges in the stems I knew that these would flower soon. It wasn't long before the first red appeared.

Shorter and Son flower trough with red tulip bulbs

late hyacinth bulbs

large hyacinth bulbs

I'm still suprised by the size of the hyacinth bulb in the green vase (top right). It hardly fits in the vase. And the buds of that bulb and the one to the left are so fat and ripe and ready to burst out. I bought those bulbs quite late (for me) to go with those late purchased vases. I still think I got them  late August when there was still a good selection of bulbs in the garden centre.

The bulb in the amber vase (bottom right) has really caught up fast. I didn't start it until mid-December and it's out of the cellar before some of the bulbs I started in September.

Bulbs purchased a few weeks later have not performed so well. These never bloomed properly. They looked quite poor when I bought them so I knew I was taking a chance but I really wanted to try out these new vases - definitely not official bulb vases - but as I thought, they hold bulbs just fine. Next year I will use better bulbs in them.

rotting bulbs in 1950s flower transfer vases

the scent of hyacinths

Delft blue hyacinths in vases and a pot

I love hyacinths in vases but there's nothing like a pot of hyacinths for a real oomph of scent. The other varieties just didn't do it like lots of Delft blue hyacinths with that intoxicating sickly sweet scent.

Delft blue hyacinths in pots

amaryllis, tulips, crocus

amaryllis in vases

amaryllis in vaseI've had some difficulties with my amaryllis this year. First, when I started them the water turned practically black with the roots rotting. I expected many of the existing roots to rot and then new ones grow. I just had to replace the water and pull off the rotted roots. After that no problems with rotting. Then, they got so tall they fell over. I've had this in previous years but never so badly as this year. When they fell they broke the stems and even the new vase third from right - and I had been so pleased to find that vase. I also managed to break a piece off the rim of another vase so all in all, a poor result for the amaryllis, even if the snapshot above captures them before they broke. The one to the right I moved onto the floor and tried to lean it against something to keep it up but it still kept falling over.

I had better luck with the white tulips this year. Quite pleased with them. They all bloomed and didn't get too leggy.  These are the white tulips on January 8th. Still no sign of any red tulips.

These are the tulips a few days earlier.

white tulips forced in vases

Like the hyacinths, the crocus are blooming steadily. Last year I incorrectly put the bulbs under the lid of this crocus bowl but I think they are supposed to be placed on top as pictured below.

Funnily enough I have never had any double-stemmed hyacinths (from single-stemmed varieties) before but this year I have three.  This one is ready to burst into bloom, the one below bloomed early and another is still in the cellar, along with about 10 other bulbs which still don't seem to be doing much. They seem to be well and truly "stunted".

double-stemmed Jan Bos hyacinth


busiest bulb forcing time

busiest bulb forcing time

This is the busiest time of the bulb forcing year. It's the peak time for hyacinths started in September to bloom. Some early ones bloomed in December (they are now wilting and need to be disposed of and their vases washed and put away). Everything needs watering and I have masses of data to collect: dates, photos  and notes including on how they all compare. For example, below are all my Delft Blue hyacinths that are upstairs (a few are still in the cellar), arranged by supplier (I will add details - and the 30 plus photos I took this week!).

all Delft Blue hyacinths

I have posted some reader photos in the Forum. If you'd like to share some photos and/or comments, please post something in the Forum.

first crocus buds and a bumble bee

crocus forced in vases

Being a bit warmer today I had the back door open and a bee flew in and seemed to be enjoying the hyacinth flowers.


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