Thursday, 8 September 2011

I don't want to force you ...

But now is the time for action if, like me, you love to have hyacinths blooming on your windowsill in the middle of winter.

Images: IKEAAbsolutely WhiteAnetteshus, Sad Ferret

Reading the autumn edition of Sarah Raven's inspiring garden catalogue made me realise that mid September is the deadline for forcing some hyacinth bulbs of my own.
In the past I just bought the hyacinth plants in winter and had one or two on my windowsill.

This year I am thinking abundance, and abundance hyacinth-buying in December is expensive. Hence the bulb catalogues and the haste to order.
Actually we only have to rush if we want them flowering at Christmas, as it takes 14 weeks to get your dormant bulb into flower.

I really love the way a few hyacinths on your windows in January bring colour and scent to the house once the Christmas decorations are put away.

If you want to try a little forcing along with me, these are the basics:

  1. Order bulbs from catalogue or buy from garden centre.                                                                        I recommend Sarah Raven and Peter Nyssen for fellow Brit readers. (I love the photos in Sarah's and the prices in Peter's!)
  2. Use special bulb fibre to fill your container about three quarters full. You can also grow the bulbs without fibre, in a special glass vase filled with water.
  3. Place the hyacinth bulbs in individual pots or closely together in a larger pot.
  4. Add  enough bulb fibre to barely cover the top of the bulb and water the pot.
  5. Pre-chilling: Now your pots need to be chilled for 12 weeks at a temperature under 40F / 5C ...but above freezing! You can do this in a fridge - but if you are going for abundance like me, this is a non starter. They are best in a cool, dark garage or shed. 
  6. Forcing: After 12 weeks bring the pots inside for blooming. First, water thoroughly and then keep them in a COOL place for 2 weeks. (No worries if it is not very light at this point). Just don't over water.
  7. When the shoots are 4-6 inches (10-15cm), move the bulbs to a slightly warmer and lighter place. Best to force slowly rather than shock them with a blast of heat. 
  8. After blooming, the bulb cannot be forced again next year. Either add to the compost heap or tenderly nurture it and plant in the garden in autumn.
Read more here and here to get the full story of forcing a hyacinth to bloom.
Image: Sad Ferret
I'm off now to get ordering, I going to be all white this year. Maybe there will even be one in a tea cup.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Horray for hyacinths...a home can't have enough of them, especially in the depths of winter. My favourite colour is deep blue...and that heady scent is unmistakeable. Jenni

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