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 used to force about 200 hyacinth bulbs each year but it's too many for me to manage so it's more like 100 now. 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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late start to the forcing year 2023

I was not able to start my hyacinths as usual this year but finally settled in my new place and opened my hyacinth bulbs and put 20 Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs in hyacinth vases. It's extremely late to do this but thought I'd give it a try.

hyacinth vases with hyacinth bulbs

hyacinth bulbs in hyacinth vases

hyacinth vases with hyacinth bulbs

The remaining 80 bulbs I was not able to force, I planted out, also quite late for bulb planting but it hasn't been as cold as it might be so maybe they will establish .

trough planted with bulbs

Start of the Forcing Year 2023

It's July and time to start thinking about forcing hyacinths for Christmas. I know it's early but it takes some planning.

glassroots hyacinth vase

one of my new vases I'm using this year for the first time

I ordered my bulbs yesterday. Looking back at my results from last year, I used 13 varieties. I'm keeping it simpler this year but buying more of a variety to get a proper range of results. I ordered:

Delft Blue, "the" hyacinth for forcing, generally reliable and good results

Blue Star, last year I had good results so buying more of these

Miss Saigon, I usually use these and get good results

City of Bradford, hasn't been available the last couple of years but seem to be now so ordered some, I really like them

Carnegie, haven't used these for years, not sure why but after indifferent results with Aiolos last year, I thought I'd go back to this for my white variety, I usually use one white hyacinth

Woodstock, didn't use this last year, can't remember why but trying it again, usually small as I recall but often great colour

cobalt blue hyacinth vase

another new vase I'm using this year for the first time

The bulbs won't be delivered until August / September so I have plenty of time to get my vases organised.

end of the forcing season beginning of February 2023

Spring in a vase

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

the Miss Saigon hyacinth a few days before

forced Miss Saigon hyacinth in hyacinth vase

Apple Blossom amaryllis

Apple Blossom amaryllis

Jeffrey and the amaryllis a few days before, 2 Apple Blossom on the left, Minerva on the right

cat and Apple Blossom amaryllis

hyacinth roots should be white and are brittle if taken out of the water (as those in the teal vase below the cranberry vase), this bulb in the cranberry vase (which I thought might be my last hyacinth flower), has slimy transparent roots and won't develop any further

glassroots hyacinth vase

hyacinth in hyacinth vase

hyacinth rotting roots

I love cobalt blue glass and this hyacinth vase shape, originating in the 19th century, is still a favourite - reasonably common and affordable (on ebay). The colour ranges from purple-blue (my favourite) to blue. My camera (now my phone) cannot capture fully that exquisite purple-blue colour. Now that the forcing season is coming to an end, I can review my vases, make sure each is on the spreadsheet and correctly numbered.

cobalt blue hyacinth vases

Delft Blue hyacinth

end of January / beginning of February 2023

Scarecrow with the last hyacinths

Jeffrey with the amaryllis

closer view of those Apple Blossom amaryllis flowers - amazing

Apple Blossom amaryllis

Miss Saigon in a vase with a removable cup, shows off the roots

I was wondering if the hyacinth in the yellow vase above would develop any further so checked the roots, not looking good, only 2 are that white brittle of healthy roots, the rest are rotting

hyacinth bulb roots

closer view of those rotting roots

hyacinth bulb roots

double-stemmed Gypsy Queen

gypsy queen double-stemmed


forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases


forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Aqua hyacinths in a bulb bowl

Aqua hyacinths in bulb bowl

Miss Saigon hyacinths

Miss Saigon hyacinths


forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

more hyacinths mid-January 2023


hyacinth vases

20-1-2023  Rocky has to share the table with the hyacinths

White Amadeus and Minerva amaryllis, Gypsy Queen hyacinth and my polydactyl cat Scarecrow

white amadeus minerva amaryllis

some room on the windowsill has to be left for the cats so most of the hyacinths are on the table, a number are still in bud

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases and bulb bowl

I tend not to use yellow or orange hyacinths as past results have been variable but Gypsy Queen was a substitute in my order and I'm pleased with these.

gypsy queen forced hyacinths

Aqua hyacinths in the bulb bowl on the left and Miss Saigon on the right

forced hyacinths in bloom in hyacinth vases and bowl

Jan Bos on the left, Blue Eyes on the right, like all the other Blue Eyes, the inner florets are not opening

hyacinths in bloom in hyacinth vases

Miss Saigon hyacinths in bud and bloom

Miss Saigon forced hyacinths

hyacinths still in bud, as of January 20th

although I try to note varieties on my spreadsheet, there are always some that are not noted or not noted accurately, these are the best I can say:

left to right, cobalt blue squat Blue Star, small clear Sainsburys (variety of bulb not specified), tall green with lily-of-the-valley painted design Blue Eyes, amber Broste Copenhagen not sure but looks like Delft Blue, grey Sky Planet, tall yellow back row Miss Saigon, teal squat Sky Jacket, small clear in the front Jan Bos?, tall green back row Gypsy Queen, blue Byzanta Ware Gypsy Queen, orange Byzanta Ware Gypsy Queen, cobalt blue squat looks like Gypsy Queen

forced hyacinths in bud in hyacinth vases

left to right, Miss Saigon in the cranberry glassroots, Blue Eyes in the black and white ceramic, Sky Planet in the cobalt blue, not sure the vase far right 

forced hyacinths in bud

mid-January 2023

some of my best hyacinths this year

Downstairs, left to right Blue Star, not sure, Blue Star, Blue Star, Blue Eyes. Blue Star has certainly turned out to be a good variety, I don't know if I've used it before, I'll check. I do try to note on my spreadsheet which hyacinth variety I put in each vase but sometimes I miss some, which is the case with the improvised amethyst jug 2nd on the left. I had been waiting for small hyacinth bulbs to be available at Sainsbury's but they never were so had to quickly use the bulbs I had left and didn't note them properly.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

and upstairs

Left to right, Caribbean Dream, Aqua, Caribbean Dream, Sky Jacket, Sky Jacket, Pink Surprise, Aiolos, Delft Blue.

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

the previous day, the buds weren't completely open on those Sky Jacket in the centre,on the mantel in my living room, there's a mirror behind, the smell is amazing when I come in

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases in bloom

these are the remaining hyacinths in bud, a few in bloom

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

the next day, some are opening, left ro right, Gypsy Queen, Miss Saigon, Pink Surprise, not sure but either Jan Bos or Pink Surprise, Delft Blue

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

Sky Planet, a variety I've not used before, flowers noticeably smaller but still nice

sky planet forced hyacinths

closer view of the Aiolos and Blue Eyes

aiolos and blue eyes hyacinth buds

fat buds in one of the Broste Copenhagen vases

hyacinth bud in hyacinth vase

these 9 are the Gypsy Queen hyacinths (not the 3 vases at the back)

gypsy queen forced hyacinths in bud in hyacinth vases

this bulb bowl (the only one I'm using this year) has Aqua hyacinth bulbs, a variety I've not used before; most of the bulbs have a lot of roots and the bulbs become immovable but this bulb did not have many developed roots and the cat knocked it over

hyacinth bulb bowl

these are the last hyacinths out of the dark, that tall cranberry vase on the right is from glassroots (produced by Margaret Howdle) as is the small crocus vase to its right of the same colour and design

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

2 of those are not looking good so I checked the roots - they have none

nor did this bulb

even though it has buds emerging

in addition to the problem of some bulbs not developing roots, some flowers wilt before they open properly such as this Sky Jacket hyacinth

sky jacket hyacinth

another problem for which I do not understand the cause or have a solution is the hyacinth stem bending over at a right angle, I have a few every year

bent hyacinth stem

bent hyacinth

Delft Blue hyacinths

Delft Blue hyacinths just opening

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

all the Delft Blue hyacinths

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

all the hyacinths together

forced hyacinth in hyacinth vases

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases amaryllis Minerva white Amadeus

the Minerva amaryllis flowers were wilted so decided to moved that vase

Minerva amaryllis

but then I noticed a new bud coming up so I cut off the wilted flower and put the vase back on the windowsill

hyacinths upstairs

forced hyacinths in hyacinth vases

 a couple days before

Delft Blue hyacinths

hyacinths in bloom in hyacinth vases

Blue Eyes hyacinths, sadly the centre florets are not opening properly

Blue Eyes hyacinths

dark pink are Jan Bos, white is Aiolos and purple is Delft Blue

jan bos hyacinths

The whitefly on my crocus this year have been so bad, I had to put the Wedgwood hedgehog outside. Previous years they have not been a problem. I think it was the weather. When I started the crocus last autumn, the weather was so warm, the whitefly infested the crocus immediately so were already present when I brought them into the house. The temperatures are pretty cold so I expect some time outside will deal with the whitefly.

Wedgwood hedgehog

other side of the hedgehog

Wedgwood hedgehog

I'd discovered this bulb in one of the vases with no roots so removed it from the vase.

hyacinth bulb without roots

I was going to dispose of it when I noticed it had a tiny green shoot. I planted it outside in a pot of compost.

hyacinth bulb with shoot

Happy New Year 2023

Rocky with hyacinths and amaryllis

hyacinths and amaryllis

new Minverva amaryllis in bloom and more White Amadeus blooms

amaryllis minerva white amadeus

Apple Blossom amaryllis now both have buds (two on the left)

Apple Blossom amaryllis

Jan Bos hyacinths

jan bos hyacinths

exquisite Delft Blue buds

Delft Blue hyacinth buds

most of the crocus bulbs seem to have flowers or buds but the whitefly has been a huge problem on them this year, no whitefly on the hyacinths at all


more bulblet surgery required

hyacinth bulblets

the roots are not reaching the water with this these bulblets preventing the bulb from sitting properly

hyacinth bulblet

as before, used a craft knife to cut off the bulblets, keeping as much of the basal plate as possible

hyacinth bulblet

hyacinth bulblets

that's better, roots reaching the water

hyacinth bulb

late December 2022

first crocus in bloom 28-12-2022

crocus in bloom in crocus vase

the day before buds are thick with whitefly as all the crocus are

whitefly on crocus

I've been trying to remove them but they come back

whitefly on crocus

couple days later, another crocus in bloom and colour showing in other buds

crocus in bloom in crocus vases

crocus in Wedgwood hedgehog just coming into bloom, sadly lots of whitefly

crocus in Wedgwoord hedgehog

Jan Bos on Christmas Day

jan bos Christmas Day

3 days later buds are opening

jan bos hyacinth

Jan Bos on Boxing Day

jan bos boxing day

Boxing Day hyacinths

boxing day hyacinths

boxing day hyacinths

Blue Eyes hyacinths just starting to open

Blue Eyes hyacinhts

I do try to keep track of which variety of hyacinth is in each vase but in my rush to start them in October, sometimes the spreadsheet doesn't get updated. The two hyacinths on the left with pinkish buds and colouring on the leaves look like the same variety but not sure what yet.


pink hyacinths, left to right, Jan Bos, not noted, Jan Bos, not noted, Pink Surprise, Jan Bos


left to right, Blue Eyes, Blue Eyes, Delft Blue (tall at the back), Delft Blue, Delft Blue, Delft Blue (tall at the back), Delft Blue, Delft Blue, Delft Blue

hyacinths in bloom

in reviewing the hyacinths this morning, I discovered that this bulb had fallen through the opening into the water so I needed to put it into another vase

when I lifted it out, saw just how extensive the roots are, I put the bulb in the blue vase shown to its left

Blue Eyes hyacinths with the moved bulb above in the blue vase in the centre



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