Forcing Hyacinths

HyacinthL1Now is the time to get your hyacinth bulbs ready if you want them blooming and beautiful for spring. They need a cool period of at least 14 weeks to form roots and prepare for blooming, so pot them up (or put them on forcing jars) and keep them in cold darkness (35º to 45ºF) until the rest period is up. If you have no other place that provides these conditions, you can use the refrigerator; simply store the bulbs in a paper bag away from the crispers. The ethylene gas that some fruits emit inhibits bulb development. Keep them in this retreat for about ten weeks, and be sure to mark your calendar so you’ll remember to remove them.

At the end of the cold period, pot the bulbs using a good potting mixture that has not been pre-enriched with fertilizer. Pots should be clean and have adequate drainage. One bulb is sufficient for a 4” (10cm) pot and three bulbs are needed for a 6” (15cm) pot. If you’re using a larger container, plant the bulbs as closely as possible together. When planting it is advisable to use gloves, since the bulbs contain organic compounds that can cause a skin rash. Move the potted bulbs to a cool, shaded part of the room for a week or two. As the flower buds begin to emerge, gradually expose the plants to ever brighter light. A bit of direct sun is useful, but fortunately it is not imperative.

forcing-hyacinths-indoorsOnce your hyacinths are growing indoors, they will flower in two to three weeks. If desired you can also lift the bulbs out of their potting material, wash off any dirt around the roots (just hold the end of the bulb under running water) and place carefully into a decorative glass container with some stones or hydro beads and a little water. Prolong the blooms by avoiding direct sunlight, but ensure that the plants get strong, indirect light. When the spring comes, plant them in the garden. Hyacinths can last for a number of years in garden condition.

Posted by Vicki

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