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Hyacinths for Christmas and Early Spring

Dutch Hyacinth - Delft Blue, for sale
       Dutch Hyacinth - Delft Blue
Hyacinths are colourful spring flowering bulbs that with a little encouragement can be persuaded to flower indoors around Christmas. There are two types of hyacinth generally available, Dutch and Roman. The most popular one is the Dutch one because each mature bulb produces a massive spike of flowers. The Roman one has several spikes with fewer, and more loosely arraged flowers. The Dutch hyacinth bulbs, illustrated here, are larger than the Roman ones.

For an indoor display hyacinths look best grown in 15-20 cm (6-8 in) bowls. Plant three or four Dutch hyacinths, or six to eight Roman ones, per bowl.


Late August, September, October - Plant the bulbs.
 
Partly fill hyacinth bowl with moist bulb fibre
1. Partly fill bowl with moist bulb fibre.
Place hyacinth bulbs evenly on the fibre
2. Place bulbs evenly on
    the fibre.
Leave just the tops of the hyacinth bulbs exposed
3. Leave just the tops of    
            the bulbs exposed.

Bowls with or without drainage holes can be used. If using a bowl without drainage, fill it with bulb fibre as the growing medium (photo 1), otherwise use John Innes Potting Compost No. 2. Partly fill the bowl with compost, and then space the bulbs evenly apart in the bowl (photo 2). Plant the bulbs so that only the tops are exposed (photo 3). Ensure that the fibre or compost is moist when planting the bulbs and it is kept in moist condition throughout the growing period.
 
Place in the cool and dark.
 
Label each bowl with the name of the variety (photo 4). Move the bowl to a cool dark place for 8 to 12 weeks to enable the bulbs to form a good root system. Aim for a temperature of less than 9 degrees C. the bottom shelf, out of the light, in a garage or shed is an ideal place. Label hyacinth bowl
4. Label to avoid confusion later.
Hyacinth bowl in cool and dark
5. Put the bowl somewhere cool and dark.
Other suitable positions are under the greenhouse shelving or in a very cool cupboard. Drained containers can be buried out of doors under a 8 cm (3 in.) layer of moist peat, sand or weathered ashes. If the bowl can be reached easily, it can be checked occasionally to ensure that the compost remains moist.
 
When do you bring the bowl out into the light?
 
The bowl will be ready to come out into the light when the flower spikes have emerged 5-8 cms (2-3 in.) above the bulbs (photo 6). By this time the bulbs will have made good root growth which will anchor the flower stem and bulb, and enable the flowers to receive water. Hyacinth bulbs go indoors
6. Bulbs ready to come indoors.
Good hyacinth roots
7. Good roots due to cool, dark      
conditions.                 
 
Buy Dutch Hyacinth variety Amethyst
  Dutch Hyacinth - Amethyst

When you bring the bowl into the light, put it in a cool, well-lit postion. A cold frame, unheated greenhouse, porch or the windowsill of an unheated room would be suitable. If the bulbs are kept on the windowsill, turn them daily so that they grow evenly.

If you wish to enjoy the hyacinth flowers in a warm room, keep the bowl in a cool position until the flowers are just about to open, then take it into the warm room. The cooler and lighter the position, the longer the flowers will last.

When the flowers are over, cut off the flowering spike and plant the bulbs outside in the garden to die down. Bulbs left outside in this way will flower again each year. But for indoor use, it is best to buy fresh bulbs each year.


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