Tuesday, 5 January 2010

White Hyacinths to feed thy soul.

Hyacinths are a spring bulb. But!
Hyacinths can flower at Christmas if are specially prepared.
I have them for the first time by following the instructions:
- remember that larger bulbs produce larger blooms. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for.
- to grow hyacinths on compost, place a thin layer of grit at the bottom of your chosen container. Use ordinary potting compost or soil mix if there are adequate drainage holes in the container.
If the container has no drainage holes, use a specially prepared indoor bulb fiber. Place moist bulb fibre at the bottom of your pot or bowl.
Add bulb fiber or compost to within 2 inches of the rim.
Plant the hyacinth bulbs with the bottom half of the bulb in compost and the top half exposed, or that the tops are just showing over the top of the compost. They can be close together, but shouldn't touch one another.
- moisten the compost, but avoid watering the bulbs directly.
- put them in whatever cool, dark place you can find. A cellar is good, a dark corner of the garage or a cool attic cupboard.
- Check regularly, keeping the fibre just moist. Leave until the shoots are 4-5cm high with the flower spikes visible and beginning to show colour. This is usually 8 to 15 weeks depending on the variety. Then bring the pots into good light but not direct sunlight.
And ...Blooms will remain for two to three weeks...heady fragrance!
After the bloom fades, you may trim the stems. You will want to leave the foliage until yellow to provide nutrients for next year's bulbs.
And...Clarification: Prepared bulbs have been pre-chilled to force them to flower at Christmas or early in the New Year. This is commonly done to hyacinths, you can prepare them yourself. This cold period makes the bulb think it is winter, stimulating a biochemical response to make it start flowering. Once they've had their cool period, you can bring them in somewhere warmer, above 15C, and they will quickly sprout, then bloom. As far as they are concerned, spring has arrived.
So...The bulbs need a long period of chilling (8 to 15 weeks) and then 2 to 3 weeks in the warm to force the flowers from bud into bloom. But if you fail to get them flowering for Christmas you can at least look forward to a blast of their heady scent from January onwards.
...also... You can put them in a paper bag in the bottom of the fridge for four to six weeks. But...this will be my experience in the following year.
And...more! I planted my tulips about 8in deep, and they flowered for three years before the energy went into developing leaves and new bulbs at the expense of colour.

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