Welcome to my blog about bulb forcing

bulb bowls hyacinth cat

The bulb forcing year starts in August/September buying bulbs. Then the bulbs quietly grow roots in the dark until the beginning of December when they are brought into the light and warmth and can begin blooming from Christmas day onwards when it is magic to have flowers and scent indoors in the middle of winter.

I force about 200 hyacinth bulbs each year. I try different hyacinth varieties from different bulb companies and compare how they perform. I'm always trying to formulate the best ways to force hyacinths and this is the documentation of my results. I also have a site devoted to hyacinth vases (www.hyacinthvases.org.uk).                       (please note that all text and images are copyright)

Previously Forced Hyacinths in the Garden

After forcing the hyacinth bulbs I plant them in the garden. These previous years' hyacinths in the garden are blooming but are much smaller. The garden withindoors meets the garden withoutdoors.

forced hyacinths planted in garden

forced hyacinths planted in the garden

forced hyacinths planted in the garden

I now have a huge pile of spent hyacinth bulbs to plant in the garden. I think it's warm enough now - for the moment - before the latest cold snap due before Easter.

spent hyacinth bulbs

All my content is copyrighted

This is my main bulb forcing windowsill. Many of my photos are quite identifiable because of the backgrounds (also my windowsill upstairs, mantel and front window shown in photos below). I am upset that some people have stolen my photos and presented them as their own.  I am now watermarking my photos but there are still some photos of mine online that are not watermarked yet.  All my content, including photos and text is copyrighted, both at this site and my site www.hyacinthvases.org.uk (and www.gardenwithoutdoors.org.uk).

bulb forcing

this is the window above that one, upstairs, same buildings in the background

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases windowsill upstairs

the mantel in my living room

hyacinths in hyacinth vases

I have a few plant stands and small tables I put some hyacinth vases on in front of the front window.

hyacinths in hyacinth vases

and I tend to organise my bulbs and bulb vases on the table on my patio (usually at least one cat is there)

bulb forcing

Please do not use my photos without permission.

Amaryllis - February 2018

My amaryllis grew a third flowering stem and is blooming this week. It has 3 flowers - amazing. I cut the other two stems off when the flowers wilted so that all the energy could go into those new flowers. That's probably my very last hyacinth for this year in the amber vase, if it actually opens. It's been very late and slow. The others on the windowsill have no roots and aren't growing.

amaryllis in amaryllis vase

those flowers are enormous

amaryllis in amaryllis vase

Victor's not too bothered

amaryllis in amaryllis vase

those last two hyacinths each only have 1 root but that seems to be enough

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

a week later and that Delft Blue hyacinth has bloomed, last hyacinth of the year, growing in a repurposed pickle jar

forced hyacinth in pickle jar

the amaryllis sparkles in the sun

amaryllis in amaryllis vase

there are a certain number of failures, these bulbs never grew roots - no idea why

failed hyacinth bulbs

I can see some flowers that couldn't emerge.

failed hyacinth bulbs

3 of those failed bulbs were from this bulb bowl, hyacinths can be so annoying when this happens - 1 blooms beautifully and the others do nothing. It wouldn't be so bad if they were in individual vases but together in the bulb bowl, frustating.

forced hyacinths in bulb bowl

I've had a new problem this year. I've had a few hyacinths fall over - common enough - but a few have had their roots torn off in the fall and the stem has gone limp. I haven't had that before. The Delft Blue hyacinth in the green Tye vase was looking beautiful Feb. 10th.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

The next day the stem went limp and wouldn't stand up. It had fallen over but I had just stood it upright again - didn't realize there was a problem.

damaged forced hyacinth in hyacinth vase

on closer examination I see the roots were torn off, it had had quite a lot of roots

hyacinth with torn off roots

I've had plenty of hyacinths fall over in the past - they can get rather top heavy but I've always just stood them up again. I've had 2 or 3 this year that have lost their roots in the fall. I don't know why suddenly this has happened.

last hyacinths of the season

the final wave of my largest and best hyacinths (ignoring those in the Dartington vases at the back and the 3 in the bulb bowl that haven't grown), February 2nd, I should have topped up the water in the vases on the left!

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Of the other vases that were languishing in the cellar until recently, I had 9 vases left in the dark until January 25th when I took out 4 and then I took the final 5 out on January 29th when I thought - it's time. None of them have the stem with a bulge indicating the flower is out of the bulb but either they'll grow and bloom or that's it for them this year.

I forgot to take a pic of those 4, or even note the date, but while processing a pic of my cat Victor (looking so sweet asleep on the table) I saw they were in the background so that was lucky.

cat with hyacinth vases

then those last 5, I remembered to take a pic on their way from my cellar (only accessible from outside) into the house

last hyacinth vases out of the dark of the season

A week later for those in the previous pic or a few days after those above and some have grown remarkably well and look well on the way to blooming this season but some look well and truly stuck and I don't imagine they'll be doing anything further. The black pot on the left I now realise is not one of the final 9 but it has no roots at all and I don't think it will grow further without any.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

then just 3 days later, they are catching up fast, a bloom and fat buds

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

and a couple days later, they are looking great: (left to right, not including those in the background without buds) Delft Blue (buds), Caribbean Dream (darker purple), Sainsburys (front, buds), Delft Blue, Ann Mary, Anne Marie (buds)

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

a few days later and they've really blossomed

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

this is one of my few complete failures; thinking about it, I haven't had many failures this year

failed hyacinth bulb

Sadly this GP Tye vase got cracked and I only discovered it at the beginning of the forcing season when I put a bulb in it and filled it with water which leaked out.

Tye vase with crack

This is the crack in the vase. Not sure how it happened. The squat vases generally seem pretty tough and sturdy. (It's been sitting outside - unuseable but too good to throw away, gosh I sound like someone on Hoarders).

Tye vase with crack

end of January 2018

The hyacinths seem to be blooming in waves and this wave is exquisite. The amaryllis has a new bud as well. I cut off the 2 stems with wilted flowers so all the amaryllis bulb's energy will go to this new flower and not making seeds.

forced hyacinth in hyacinth vases

There is some overlap with the vases and bowl in these photos but I wanted to include my ginger cat, Victor, who's so often sitting on that chair - and it's a beautiful sunny day.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Blue Jacket has been a successful hyacinth this year. It has a stripe on the petals. Not that long ago, two of the bulbs in this bowl weren't blooming at all but they're catching up - at least to all be in bloom, to a certain extent, at the same time.

Blue Jacket hyacinth in Mottahedeh bulb bowl

Pacific Ocean flowers are a bit small - but that purple-black colour is intense. Most have finished already and the smell is nothing special so it's all about the colour with this one.

Pacific Ocean hyacinth

here it is in comparison to other varieties, left to right, Delft Blue, Miss Saigon, Delft Blue, Pacific Ocean, Sainsbury's unnamed

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Delft Blue is a great performer. This is one of my best flowers this year.

Delft Blue hyacinth in Tye vase

not quite as large, but still beautiful

Delft Blue hyacinth in ByZantaware vase

As noted already, I love the fat hyacinth buds, bursting open, with colour and scent. I don't know when I first smelled a hyacinth or where they were but I know it was when I was a child and the smell takes me back there and it means SPRING. Sadly, I have no photos of my mother's garden from that time but sure it had hyacinths.

forced hyacinth buds

forced hyacinth buds

forced hyacinth buds

start of third week of January 2018

I use this Charles I vase as a hyacinth vase. January 30th is the day he was executed so I will pause and think of him. What comes to mind is "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely" - and I'm thinking of Oliver Cromwell not Charles.

Charles I vase with hyacinth

a few days after that pic below, 25th January

purple-blue forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

those two hyacinths in the middle are some of my best this year, both Delft Blue

Delft Blue forced hyacinths

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

I love the emerging buds

forced hyacinth

forced hyacinth in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinth

as noted, bulblets need to be cut off with some roots, but in this case there are no roots

hyacinth bulb with bulblet

I'm assuming cutting it with some of the basal plate will be enough and some roots can grow from it.

The two small clear vases, above and below, are Dartington. I'd seen them on ebay but hadn't realised how small they were in comparison with other vases. I don't have many bulbs left to experiement with but it was challenging pushing two in. In future, I can use small bulbs.

Dartington hyacinth vases

the next wave of flowers and buds, 21st January

forced hyacinth bulbs in hyacinth vases

I love this shade of purple, Blue Star hyacinths

forced hyacinths in bulb bowl

forced hyacinth bulb pot

forced hyacinths hyacinth vases

hyacinth vase

hyacinth flower

forced hyacinth

forced hyacinth in Charles II vase

forced hyacinths hyacinth vases

third week of January 2018

more Pink Elephant hyacinths in this bulb bowl

forced Pink Elephant hyacinth bulbs

another bulb bowl with Blue Jacket hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl forced hyacinths in bud

Pink Elephant hyacinth on the left, rather pathetic ??? on the right

forced Pink Elephant hyacinths

hyacinths in bloom upstairs

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

lots of buds, ready for the next wave of flowers, January 17th

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

some of my best flowers a few days previously, January 12th

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Blue Star hyacinth flower, one of the best this year

Blue Star hyacinth

Delft Blue hyacinth, one of best this year

Delft Blue forced hyacinth

these are wilting but I wanted to remember how these were some of the best flowers this year: Delft Blue and Caribbean Dream - and it's actually sunny today! (January 17th)

spent forced hyacinths

second week in January 2018

I've had a number of hyacinths in bloom so far this season so I'm already disposing of spent flowers. I generally accumulate the spent bulbs and plant them in one go when they're all finished and the weather is better to plant them in the garden. The vases on the table I just took out of the dark. They don't look very ready to come out but unless they come out soon they won't bloom this season.

disposing of spent hyacinths

while I was going through those spent hyacinths I found this one had a second stem yet to bloom, I cut the wilting stem off and put the bulb back in a vase to allow the second stem to bloom

forced hyacinth with second stem

I cut off that wilting stem and put the bulb in a vase

Miss Saigon hyacinth with second stem

these are still in the dark in the cellar, even smaller than the ones above

hyacinths still in the dark

I printed out my spreadsheet to update it while checking the hyacinths, Victor promptly sat on it

cat and forced hyacinths

I have run out of room on the windowsill (want to keep a bit in the middle for a cat to sit) so I've had to put the latest vases out of the dark on the table. None of these are as developed as I'd like but it's so late in the season now I'm worried about them having time to bloom.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

from that bulb bowl above, the hyacinth on the left is one of (if not "the") best this year, Blue Star (I think), in the middle Miss Saigon, the other 3 disppointing failures, no roots and on the right rotten:

failing hyacinth bulbs

although the two on the left look ok from above

failing hyacinth bulbs

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

These are Pink Elephant hyacinths. I haven't used them before. The stems are a bit sparse but they're interesting looking. They are not "prepared" but seem to have been forced just fine.

Pink Elephant hyacinths in hyacinth vases

the hyacinths develop at such different rates

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

some of the bulbs have bulblets I didn't notice when I started them, this one is well-developed

well-developed bulblet

I have tried planting bulblets in the past but without any roots they won't develop any and grow. I carefully cut off some of the bulblets with roots attached.

hyacinth bulblets

I potted the bulblets up.

hyacinth bulblets potted up

peak of hyacinth blooms - first week of January 2018

two of these hyacinths have double stems

forced hyacinths in bloom in hyacinth vases and bowl

different shades of bluish purple

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

I only noticed Stitch, a neighbour's cat sitting on the fence outside while processing this photo

hyacinths forced in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths in bulb bowl

Jeffrey, a neighbour's cat, making himself at home

black cat with hyacinths forced in hyacinth vases

Victor having a drink outside where water has collected and Bear (Stitch's son) on the right

Stitch in her favourite position

cat on fence

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