amaryllis in vases

It was so grey and rainy last week I thought the one thing I could do indoors was to start the amaryllis. I'm down to 4 vases after breaking 1 recently and buying another over the summer.

amaryllis bulbs in amaryllis vases

The roots are starting their rotting phase and the water is just starting to turn brown but as in previous years I'm sure that will be followed by fresh roots. And the stems are certainly growing strongly already. On the right is a hyacinth vase (from Marks and Spencer) which I was given as a present recently.  What a nice pressie to receive! It makes a nice contrast with the amaryllis to highlight the size differences. It should be it in the cellar.

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status of the hyacinth bulbs and the crocus and tulip bulbs

Checking on the hyacinth bulbs today (after 7 weeeks in the dark) shows many have masses of roots and many have flower stems sprouting. Of course they should be kept in the cellar (or similar dark environment) for another 5 weeks until about December 1st when the flower stem with the bulge of the flower has emerged from the bulb. I just took them out to take a photo.

hyacinth bulbs in hyacinth vases

Unlike previous years many of the bulbs have a coating of mold. It does seem to be quite warm still in the cellar and it's certainly damp, both with all the rain in recent weeks and my cellar is damp anyway. I'm not sure why some bulbs have it and some do not. I will have to note it in my spreadsheet and see if there's any correlation with hyacinth variety.

4 of the vases below have prominent stems sprouting. It will be interesting to see if there is a correlation with hyacinth variety for this as well.

hyacinth vases

Richmond hyacinth vase

Some of the crocus bulbs have lots of roots but not all of them; they aren't nearly as consistent as the hyacinths. I find the crocus bulbs (and tulip bulbs), unlike the hyacinth bulbs, benefit from actually sitting in the water. The hyacinths will rot if they sit in water.

crocus bulbs in forcing vases

All of the small vases below are actually crocus vases. I'm using them for small tulip bulbs. As far as I know there are no "official" tulip vases so we just have to improvise any vase that will hold a tulip bulb which do vary in size depending on the variety. Most of the tulip bulbs below are quite small and can fit easily in a crocus vase. The tall black vase is a truffle bottle holding a slightly larger tulip bulb as is the darker blue vase in the middle.

tulip bulbs in forcing vases

A comparison of bulb sizes, below left to right: large hyacinth, average hyacinth, small tulip, crocus, very small tulip.

bulb sizes

more hyacinth bulbs

I took the hyacinth bulbs I was preparing myself out of the fridge last week. I can't believe it was 6 weeks already since I bought them beginning of September - time flies. Of course, it was silly of me to buy so many bulbs but I just couldn't resist them. I have no more vases or even pots to put them all in! although obviously I've found a few pots to use. This first set of pots was from Sainsburys a few years ago that came with narcissus bulbs.

hyacinth bulbs in pots

hyacinth bulbs in pots

another hyacinth vase

That white vase is just too small for those enormous amaryllis bulbs (see pic below) so I decided to try it with a hyacinth bulb instead. These Delft Blue bulbs are very large anyway so certainly seem good for this white vase. It's rather late to start a hyacinth in a vase but not completely unreasonable, within a feasible timeframe. 

white vase with hyacinth bulb

amaryllis vases

I saw some amaryllis bulbs a few days ago, the first I've seen this year, so thought I would buy them in case I didn't come across any others. Actually I did see some last week but they came with a pot and I just wanted the bulbs.

amaryllis vases

On the far left is my first amaryllis vase which I bought a few years ago at a garden centre being sold as an amaryllis vase. It came packaged in a box with an amaryllis bulb. Next is what I think is an "official" amaryllis vase although it was not sold as such but only because I don't think the seller (on ebay) realised what it was. I did have a similar one sold as an amaryllis vase but unfortunately it broke. Next is not an official amaryllis vase but one that I think is quite suited to holding an amaryllis bulb. The bulbs I bought the other day are massive and too big for that vase. The next vase on the far right is from Ikea and not an "official" amaryllis vase. I had 3 of these but I just broke one while trying to rinse out the dust. I had broken one while still at Ikea so they are somewhat fragile. This was a few years ago that I bought them from Ikea, who no longer sell this style of vase. These bulbs, being so massive, are somewhat expensive, especially compared to other smaller varieties such as hyacinths so I don't do them every year. These were £8.99 each so I just bought 4.

As with forcing any bulb in water, the vase is filled with water to just below the bulb. The existing roots have always rotted for me but I just remove them and replace the water with fresh, as required. Amaryllis are quite quick to bloom and do not need any time in the dark. I will have to check my notes from previous years but I think they take about 6 weeks from putting in water to having blooms.

using a truffle bottle to force a tulip bulb in water

I was lucky enough to find another truffle bottle. They are a very good size to use as a tulip vase. Tulips bulbs vary enormously in size and I'm not expert on them but this variety (which I chose by size at the garden centre this week, I'll check the name) is a perfect size.

truffle bottle with tulip bulbs

There is variation of size within the range of 10 bulbs in the pack so I chose the best one for this vase, filled it with water and put it in the cellar with the rest of the bulb vases and pots.

truffle bottle with tulip bulb

I love cats, especially black cats, so I like seeing this one at one of my local garden centres. Behind them you can see the hyacinth vases they have for sale: brand new, I think they were £2.99. This and other new vases sold at garden centres this time of year are misdescribed on ebay as "vintage". Please take note! and don't pay a premium for an "antique" that is anything but that you can buy new retail.

black cat at Boma garden centre with hyacinth vases in the background

While I was there I bought my amaryllis bulbs for this year. They're enormous! (photo to be added tomorrow)

some new bulb vases to try

I got some new bulb vases on ebay to try. Well, they aren't official "bulb" vases but I'm trying them out as bulb vases. They are quite small so I'm using 2 crocus bulbs and a small tulip bulb. They're just sitting in the other vases to keep them upright.

These are the hooks they came with but I don't think they're going to work for me. With one end in the vase it's in the way of the bulb - and the roots when they eventually grow and extend into the vase.

hanging vases hooks

forcing hyacinths on Gardeners World and more crocus for Christmas

Monty Don actually forcing hyacinths on Gardeners World! (last night, Oct 4th) I don't think they've ever done that, certainly not since I've been watching in recent years.

I ran out of steam with these crocus bulbs so they've been sitting on the table for weeks. My squirrels have disappeared or all the bulbs would have been eaten. I did buy some vases on ebay suitable for crocus bulbs - on impulse - so I thought I should get the crocus bulbs started until the vases arrive in the post (watch this space). I had decided to get rid of these vases to thin my collection but I unpacked them again to use them temporarily.

crocus bulbs in vases

forcing crocus for Christmas

The first crocus I bought were too small to rest on top of the holes of the crocus bowl. They were "snow crocus". I needed some large Dutch crocus instead. I planted the snow crocus in the terracotta pot instead.

how I force hyacinth bulbs for Christmas

First I take all my hyacinth vases out of the cellar. Then I try to decide which colour hyacinth would look best in each vase and note the variety on my list. I stopped here after doing about two thirds so I could fill the vases with water and put them back in the cellar. I make sure not to fill them too high. The bulbs must not be sitting in water or they will rot. I put them back in the cellar (a dark place) for 12 to 15 weeks. Twelve weeks from now takes me up to the end of November, perfect time for the vases to come out of the cellar to have hyacinths in flower for Christmas. If they need a few weeks longer I'll have flowers in January.

hyacinth vases and bulbs

With about a third of the vases left on the table it gives me more room and makes the task a little easier.

hyacinth vases and bulbs

I break off any bulblets before I put the bulb in the vase: 1. it won't develop properly, 2. it will take energy away from the main flower.

hyacinth bulblet

Unfortunately it doesn't show very well but this uranium hyacinth vase was glowing a bit, especially as the sun was going down. I use the plastic box to carry the vases into the cellar to reduce the risk of dropping them and so I can carry more than 2 at a time.

uranium hyacinth vase

My last few vases - rather boring clear ones - they can have the last bulbs. I have all the choices noted on my print-out which I will use to update my spreadsheet. I have a few bulblets there I can plant. I've tried that before but not much came of them - my usual problem - I didn't water them enough.

hyacinth vases

I had to use the table in the garden as I didn't have room inside - and it saved me carrying all the vases up the stairs from the patio to the kitchen.

hyacinth vases

I said yesterday I was going to mail order some more bulbs but after looking at the catalogues again last night I don't think I need to when I can get reasonable bulbs locally and there aren't any particular varieties I really want. I do need a few more bulbs for my bulb bowls and pots but I'm sure my local garden centre will be fine.

I thinned my small vases quite alot and these few are all I have left. Crocus and tulips take such a long time to grow their roots and bloom and the flowers last such a short time (especially crocus) that I decided I didn't want to do too many but I will get some to put in these vases.

tulip and crocus vases

Now that the vases are started, I need to start the bowls. The hyacinth bulbs are so large I don't think I can fit 5 on the smaller bowls. The bowl with 7 holes is for crocus.

bulb bowls and pots

bulb bowls and pots

bulb bowls and pots

these hyacinth bulbs are enormous, I don't recall them ever being so big, I guess the weather was better for them this year

hyacinth bulbs in bowl

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