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)

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sky high amaryllis

The amaryllis are growing like mad. I bought 4 bulbs but found that 2 of my vases I was planning to grow them in were not large enough so had to use pots. I only started the two in pots later so they are not tall and blooming like the the ones in vases which I started first.

amaryllis La Paz

the amaryllis have gotten so tall, difficult to take a photo

amaryllis la paz

first hyacinths out of the dark

I was in the cellar for something else the other day when I noticed how developed the hyacinths were and realised some really needed to come out of the dark into the light. The stems look anemic until they've had a couple days in the light and they start to green up.

hyacinth vases

Most of the hyacinths ready this early are Woodstock and Aqua. I have not tried Aqua before so curious to see how they perform.

hyacinth vases

start of the forcing year - September 2020

The bulb forcing season has started. I just got my bulbs delivered from Peter Nyssen and bought a few larger bulbs from Camden Garden Centre as I have a few vases that need the largest bulbs possible. I put a hyacinth bulb in each vase, filled with water to just below the bulb and put them in the cellar in the dark. I will check them in 6 to 8 weeks and see how they're doing.

hyacinth bulbs

hyacinth bulb forcing vases

hyacinth bulb forcing vases

antique glass hyacinth vases

Victorian terracotta hyacinth vases

Davidson bulb bowl hyacinth vases

these vases and the Davidson bulb bowl require the largest hyacinth bulbs

Davidson bulb bowl

You don't need to use an "official" hyacinth vase; any vase / jar / bottle that holds a hyacinth bulb above water can be used for forcing. I am using this antique pickle jar. I find these can be a bargain on ebay - who's using these anymore for pickles!?

hyacinth vases bulb forcing

Woodstock hyacinth bulbs in uranium Tye hyacinth vases,

antique cobalt blue hyacinth vases

February 2020 - final flowers of the forcing season

early Spring crocus / species crocus in bloom

forced  crocus

forced crocus

Only 1 species / early spring crocus in bloom in the crocus vases, quite disappointed with these this year. I've had more in bloom in the past. The large Dutch crocus have been much better this year, maybe I should stick with those.

crocus vases

amaryllis in bud and bloom, in amaryllis vases (look like giant hyacinth vases) and one in a vase that works as an amaryllis vase

amaryllis in amaryllis vases

final hyacinths, Delft Blue and Aiolos

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Jeffrey, my black cat visitor, on the desk and the final hyacinths on the windowsill

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

closer view of the hyacinths

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

two of those hyacinths above have rotted buds and will not be blooming

rotted buds on forced hyacinths

mid-January 2020

We're coming to the end of the forced hyacinths but a few are still in bloom and a few more to come but only a few. One of the final hyacinths with two stems, some large Dutch crocus in bloom and a few muscari.

forced hyacinth and crocus

a closer view of that hyacinth and crocus

hyacinth and crocus

These were the last group on the mantel.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

this new hyacinth has two stems

hyacinth in hyacinth vase

Not sure those vases on the right will bloom but I'll give them a week or so.

hyacinth vases with forced hyacinths

a few days later and some of those hyacinths have bloomed nicely, the blue vase is actually a different one than the one above

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

the hyacinths in the bulb bowl are looking good - after they were moved in a better bowl - one with a proper lid that doesn't hold the bulbs too far from the water

hyacinth bulb bowl

those final hyacinths in bud, I'll have to see if they actually bloom

hyacinths in bud in hyacinth vases

first week in January

more crocus blooms every day in the Wedgwood hedgehog

Wedgwood hedgehog with crocus bulbs

onto the next phase of hyacinth blooms

forced hyacinth bulbs blooming in hyacinth vases

an amazing Sky Jacket hyacinth which has now filled out (after initially being quite small and sparse) next to one that hasn't done nearly as well; other hyacinths still in bud

hyacinth bulbs blooming in hyacinth vases

two other smaller Sky Jacket hyacinths, Woodstock hyacinth behind

sky jacket hyacinths

the last bulb bowl in the cellar

hyacinth bulb bowl

I turned the bulbs over to see their root development - there was none, no wonder there's so little stem growth

hyacinth bulb bowl

This is the lid to the bulb bowl, it sits on top of the bowl rather than in the bowl on a ledge like the others, so I'm wondering if the bulbs being that much further from the water prevented root growth, otherwise why no roots on any of the bulbs? Bulbs do grow unevenly but none in this bowl have rooted so it must be something about the bowl.

hyacinth bulb bowl lid

I've put those bulbs in a different, more conventional, bulb bowl and after a couple days, there are roots starting, whether they have time to bloom, I'm not sure but at least they have a better chance.

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

a couple weeks later, the bulbs in the bowl above are growing well (see below), the other hyacinths below are late out of the cellar and not sure they are going to bloom this year

forced hyacinths

Wedgwood hedgehog with crocus bulbs

more crocus in bloom everyday in the Wedgwood hedgehog

Wedgwood hedgehog with crocus bulbs

New Year's Day

the next hyacinths with fat buds

forced hyacinths

more crocus bulbs starting to bloom in the Wedgwood hedgehog

Wedgwood hedgehog with crocus bulbs in bloom

New Year's Eve Hyacinths

It is the peak time for the forced hyacinths.

forced hyacinth in terracotta vase

the next wave of Deflt Blue hyacinths is replacing those on the mantel

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths

forced hyacinths

Pink Pearl hyacinths

forced Pink Pearl hyacinths

I forgot to post this photo of the Jan Bos hyacinths from 10 days ago, one of the earliest hyacinth varieties to bloom.

Jan Bos hyacinths

Delft Blue hyacinths in the middle, Pacific Ocean hyacinths on the left

forced hyacinths

the first crocus in bloom in the Wedgwood hedgehog

Wedgwood hedgehog with crocus in bloom

Woodstock hyacinths just starting to bloom, obviously a later variety, only 2 in bloom so far

Woodstock hyacinths

Sadly, some of the problem bulbs.

bent hyacinths that never straightened up, I still don't know why this happens

bent forced hyacinths

Some of the other Delft Blue hyacinths that didn't bloom well properly. There's always a proportion of the bulbs that don't perform well.

Although the Sky Jacket hyacinths looked interesting in bud, they have not bloomed well and the bulbs have shrunk and are falling through into the water. And one of them is bent over.

Sky Jacket hyacinths

Sky Jacket hyacinths

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