Common name: Hyacinth
With modern growing techniques, Hyacinth can now be forced to flower between December and May.
This attribute is useful for fetching a touch of fragrance and colour indoors during the dismal winter months.
Untreated bulbs will flower later if planted in succession between August and October, fetch them into the warmth as they become ready.
Choose prepared hyacinth bulbs carefully, they should be firm and the basal plate intact.
Any loose scales are best removed before planting.
To avoid uneven stem length and flowering times, group bulbs of the same variety together.
Week 37: Plant bulbs in a partially shaded, sheltered position approx 150mm deep and 200mm (8") apart.
They prefer moist, well-drained, light soil with lots of humus added.
For best affect in borders, plant them closer together in groups of three, or 100mm (4") apart in drifts.
Some protection from frosts during winter can be beneficial, covering the soil with straw or peat will normally suffice, this should be removed or scraped aside in early spring.
Hyacinths need not be lifted after flowering, but if it is found necessary to remove them, transfer the bulbs with plenty of soil on the roots to a sheltered position, heel them in, and allow the leaves to die down naturally.
There are two distinct kinds of bulbs that are used for growing indoors, i.e. there are those that are bought fresh each year for forcing and afterwards either planted in the garden or discarded, and the longer lived, tender kinds, that will flower in succession throughout the year, and survive indoors indefinitely.
They will also have been stored at carefully controlled temperatures to induce the proper development of the flower buds inside the bulb for flowering at the desired time.
Unpack the bulbs as soon as they are received / purchased and plant them.
Pre-planted containers / baskets should be treated as shown below.
Partially fill suitable sized bowls with potting compost of Ji2 quality or a purpose made bulb fibre and place the bulbs in position.
A 125mm (5") bowl should be ample for three bulbs, or 150mm (6") for five.
Bulbs are always more effective if planted in odd numbers.
Set the bulbs as close as possible, it does not matter too much it they touch, then fill the spaces with compost.
The tips of large bulbs may be left exposed.
The surface of the rooting medium should be at least 25mm (1") below the rim of the bowl to allow for watering.
Water well, then place the bowl/s into a dark cupboard or plunge them into a frost free cold frame, covered in damp peat for 10-14 weeks
This is essential for them to form a good root system.
If a coldframe is not available, place them in a sheltered spot out doors and bury them as described above, then further cover with black polythene or some other waterproof material that does not allow the ingress of light.
Check periodically to see if they require watering although generally you will find watering is unnecessary.
When the tips of the leaves are 25-50mm (1-2") above the rim of the bowl move them into a warmer location, e.g. a greenhouse or to the window sill of a cool room, the colour should be showing a week or so later.
Aim for a temperature of 4°-10°C (40°-50°F) at this stage.
Do not fetch all the bowls in at once if a succession of flowers is wanted.
Even if they show the necessary leaf development at the same time, a delay of four or five weeks will do no harm if they remain in the cold.
When the leaves are about 100mm (4") high, raise the temperature gradually to 16°-18°C (60º-65°F).
It advisable to support the plants from this stage, tie string round the stems or stake each plant separately.
Keep the bowls watered.
Remove flowers as they fade, but not the leaves and stems.
Approx 6-8 weeks after flowering has finished remove the bulbs and root ball from the bowl/s and plant them out as described above in Outdoor culture.
Take care to avoid root damage and don't break up the root ball or separate the bulbs.
Bulbs grown in compost and subsequently planted out in the garden will usually flower again the following year, whereas those in fibre often take a year to recover.
Water/ Hydroponic culture:
Select a narrow necked container in which the roots will have space to grow and in which the bulbs will rest without falling into the water.
Special glass bulb jars with constricted necks, are available from good garden centres.
The bulb will rot if it is completely immersed.
Place the prepared jars in a dark, cool, frost-free place.
Check periodically to ensure that the base of each bulb remains in water until the roots emerge.
There after ensure that the roots are always in contact with the water.
When the roots are 75-100mm (3"-4") long and the leaves have grown at least 25mm (1") move the jars into a warmer location, e.g. a greenhouse or to the window sill of a cool room.
When the leaves are about 50-75mm (3"-4") high, raise the temperature gradually to 16°-18°C (60º-65°F).
Bulbs grown in this manner will tend to shrivel through lack of nutrients rendering them useless for further use.
If pre-prepared containers/baskets have been purchased, it is very important to keep them in a cool room for the first 7-10 days.
Placing them into warm conditions straight away could cause the bulbs to stretch and become leggy.
Should this occur support the plants with split canes and string.
Move the arrangement into a required location once buds start to open.
Buds usually start to open 2-3 weeks after receipt.
Water regularly but sparingly.
Flowering periods will depend on variety and temperature, but generally, the cooler the temperature, the longer the flowering period.