Hyacinths produce a stunning bloom and an even more intoxicating aroma. And while they will do fairly well across Canada, they are a guaranteed burst of indoor colour as winter draws to a close. That is, if you can figure out how to force them into bloom. It’s not difficult and I urge you to give it a try. Now’s a great time to go searching for bulbs as well if you don’t have any: the garden centres are looking to get rid of their inventory for the year.
I prefer Hyacinth ‘Pink Pearl’ which produces a large bright pink flower stalk. I enjoy it so much that I’ve included it in my Mark’s Choice Deer and Squirrel Resistant Bulb Collection available exclusively at Home Hardware. Oh yea, I guess I should mention they are deer and squirrel resistant (just an added bonus). ‘Pink Pearl’ isn’t your only option, though, and I encourage you to seek out other varieties that peak your interest.
So while you can plant them outdoors, it is a little late: winter has started. Like most fall planted bulbs, hyacinth needs to make it into the ground before winter hits in order to begin establishing a bit of a root system. This allows the bulb to absorb the water around it rather than sitting in it and succumbing to rot.
Don’t despair, though, you can plant them up in a pot and force them to bloom indoors for you when you’ve had more than enough of the dreary winter weather.
Just a Few Steps
1. Obtain bulbs: bigger bulbs will produce a bigger bloom. If at all possible, use bulbs that have already been chilled. If you’re unsure if it has been chilled, place it in the crisper of your refrigerator for 4-5 weeks. Avoid mixing with ethylene producing fruits and veggies as this can cause rot.
2. After your bulb has been chilled, fill with water a ‘hyacinth glass’, ‘forcing vase’ or other tapering container. You want the bulb to sit above the water so the mouth of the container needs to taper (there are special vases used just for forcing bulbs).
3. Place the hyacinth bulb, roots down, into the vase (pointy side up). The base of the bulb shouldn’t touch the water but it should be very close.
4. Give your bulb plenty of light (a sunny window works just fine) and keep it away from drafts.
5. Change murky water and keep an eye on the water level, keeping it just below the base of the bulb.
And that’s it! In a few weeks you will notice root and top growth. A little while later, a stunning bloom and a fragrance to die for. Once it has bloomed, place it on the kitchen table or somewhere else where it can be enjoyed daily.
I’ve heard that forced bulbs don’t do well outdoors but I always give it a shot anyway. Once the bloom has finished, cut off the stem and plant in a well-drained sunny location. You may get a bloom next year and you may not but there’s no harm in trying. It will largely depend on the type of hyacinth you are working with and a little bit of luck: they can be a bit finicky.
And that’s it! Treat yourself to a bit of colour this winter with some fall planning. It’s well worth the effort, trust me.