Get Spring-Like Hyacinth Blooms All Winter Long

Sure, hyacinths blossom naturally outdoors during springtime, but you can also fool them into flowering indoors in the dead of winter. Forcing bulbs isn’t reserved for growers. The indoor gardener can have a steady supply of stunning and fragrant blooming hyacinths from late December through April with only a little work. Here’s how.


Clusters of pastel blooms that emit a sweet fragrance characterize hyacinths. They have relatively short leaves and therefore can be placed in specialized forcing vases, such as the ones shown here.

LLC, Sheila Rich Interiors

Choosing bulbs. By mid-October it’s advised to buy bulbs which aren’t prechilled. If you are beginning in September or early October, buy the best-quality prechilled (ready) bulbs you can get which are big and blemish free. Make sure they’re firm and free of mould.

Storing bulbs prior to potting. Manage bulbs carefully constantly. They should not be dropped or exposed to extremely high or low temperatures. While it is preferable to pot recently bought bulbs right away (particularly prechilled bulbs), bare bulbs can be stored for several weeks in cool, moist sand till you are ready to induce them.

Keep the bulbs at a place with temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures over 63 degrees must be avoided at all times prior to planting, so based upon your climate and time of year, fridge storage may be the perfect thing to do.

Place the bulbs in a mesh or paper bag with holes for ventilation. You can save them into a vegetable or skillet in your fridge, but don’t store them in precisely the exact same drawer as ripening vegetables or fruit, which give off ethylene gas which can damage the bulbs. Check them occasionally to make sure they aren’t molding or drying out.

Warning: Many bulbs, for example hyacinth, are toxic, so the fridge storage method is not recommended for families with young kids. Additionally, hyacinths contain oxalic acid, which can cause skin irritation for some people. Before planting, make sure you thoroughly wet the bulbs to decrease the impact of this oxalic acid, and also use gloves for protection.

Gardening with Confidence®

How to Force Hyacinth Bulbs
There are a couple of ways to induce hyacinth bulbs. I’m going to tell you about the water method, the dirt method and my simple (although not optimal) method. I favor the latter, however some may find that the other traditional approaches are more dependable.

The simple (although not best) way. This is great for people who reside in warm climates. It works best for Lady Derby or Gypsy Queen bulbs, each of which are known to induce readily.

Store the bulbs in a paper bag in your refrigerator for eight to ten weeks (again, in a place protected from ripening fruit).

Place the bulbs in vases or on a bed of stones in water, as you would for other bulbs.

Place the vases at a place with bright indirect light and give the plants more light as they grow roots and leaves.
Though many experts will tell you hyacinths won’t bloom indoors unless they origin in 48 degrees or below through a frightening period of eight to 16 weeks, experience has taught me this isn’t necessarily the situation. My results may have not been best — the flower stalks did are short — but we appreciated fragrant and lovely flowers.

Note: Among the downsides to using forcing vases is the stalks can weaken and fall over until the blooms have opened completely. In the absence of dirt, tie a flat bamboo skewer to the side of this forcing vase for support, or just liquefy the plant from a wall.


The water method.
Use forcing eyeglasses, vases or containers which can hold the bulbs only over the water and allow room for root growth below. Pick vases which won’t tip over when the big blossoms bloom.

Place a bulb in your container and then add water until it just reaches the base of the bulb. Change the water once or twice per week by tipping the liquid out and replacing it with fresh, lukewarm water.

Place the bulbs at a place that’s cool (40 to 55 degrees) and dark until the roots develop and leaves begin to sprout. Bulbs which were prechilled will show growth in about a few weeks, whereas routine bulbs take eight to 16 weeks.

Note: The temperature through this rooting period is crucial: 40 to 48 degrees is best. You can theoretically root bulbs in your fridge if you have a thermometer. Basements and garages often offer the ideal conditions.

Once the foliage starts to develop, move the bulbs to a warmer place (65 degrees). Some growers urge a bright north-facing window, but some specify bright light but not direct sunlight.

Switch the vases every day to avoid leaning, and change the water regularly. After about two additional weeks, you ought to have stunning, fragrant blossoms that can last another two weeks or so in a cool place.

Once the blooms have browned and expired, throw out the bulbs. Water forcing utilizes every scrap of electricity a bulb offers, hence the bulbs won’t rebloom.

Rossington Architecture

The soil method. Use clean 4- to 8-inch diameter baskets with adequate drainage holes. If they had been formerly used, wash and wash them thoroughly. Make sure the holes at the base of fresh plastic pots are open. Should you use clay pots, soak them overnight in a bucket of water so they won’t draw moisture from the planting medium.

The planting medium anchors the bulbs and retains moisture. It must be well draining and yet maintain adequate moisture for growth. A good example of a acceptable planting medium is really a sterilized mixture containing equal portions of loamy soil, peat and sand. Fertilizer should not be added to the mix.

Tamar Schechner/Nest Pretty Things Inc

Add dirt to the base of the kettle, then place three or four bulbs in an 7-inch kettleplant or plant a single bulb at a 4-inch pot. The bulb shirts must show above the soil. Do not press on the bulbs to the planting medium; it should be loose so rooting can take place quickly. Do not overfill the pot. Fill it just to inside 1/2 inch of the surface so the plants can be easily watered.

After planting, water the pots thoroughly and place them in a fridge that’s 35 to 45 degrees, or in a place with a similar temperature range. A cold, dark basement room, basement or garage would work well. Keep the medium moist throughout the rooting and cooling period. After five to six weeks, roots must grow out of the holes of their containers, and shoots will begin to emerge from the very top of their bulbs.

After having a minimum of 10 to 13 weeks of cold treatment, the first bulbs could be placed in the home. Longer cold storage will result in taller flowers, whilst storage intervals shorter than 10 to 13 weeks will likely result in more compact plants and at times aborted or malformed blossoms. For a constant supply of flowering flowers, fill as many pots as you have room to put away during cold treatment, then bring a few pots indoors at weekly intervals.

Place the pots in a 60-degree place with subdued lighting to get a week or two until yellow sprouts at the peak of the bulb turn green.

Transfer the pots to a brighter, slightly warmer place, like a windowsill, but avoid direct sunlight for best results. Continue to keep them at a relatively cool place to mimic temperatures outdoors in early spring, and also remember to flip the pots slightly every day so the stalks will grow right back.

Once the buds open and the plant is in full blossom, proceed to a somewhat colder place without direct sunlight to prolong bloom life. Display flowering plants during the day when you can enjoy them then move them in to your coldest room at night to preserve the blooms.

sherry hart

Care of bulbs later blooming. As mentioned before, bulbs made in water will very seldom have the capability to blossom again. Bulbs forced in dirt, however, can possibly blossom again, though the blooms won’t ever match the beauty of the first ones, so most seasoned anglers choose to throw them. Or you can proceed as follows:

once the blooms turn brown and die, cut the stalks off in the bottom but continue to take care of the plant using frequent watering. Come spring, plant your bulbs outdoors, where they will often recover and blossom again, though not always another year, rather than using the identical vigor. If you don’t have room in your garden for the outcast hyacinth bulbs, or you don’t have a garden, just remove your bulbs and start again next year with fresh bulbs.

More: learn to induce narcissus and amaryllis bulbs too.

See related