How to: grow hyacinths for Christmas

 Hyacinths

To have fragrant hyacinths flowering in the home for Christmas, you need to select ‘prepared’ hyacinths. These have been ‘cold treated’ to induce early flowering and if planted around the end of September or early October will be in bloom for the festive period.Wear gloves when handling Hyacinth bulbs, as they can cause skin irritation.

Grow indoor hyacinths in glasses:

1. Fill the glass with water, just below the bulb’s base.
2. Rest the bulb in the top of the glass so that the base of the bulb is just in contact with the water.
3. Place glass in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard, or dark garden shed. Failing that, cover with a black bag. This will allow the roots to grow.
4. Once the main shoot is about 5cm tall, move the glass into full light.
5. Turn the glass around by a half-turn every day. This helps to prevent the plant from growing towards the light.
6. Ensure you top up the water when necessary.

Tips for growing indoor hyacinths in pots:

  • Plant your hyacinth bulbs in a pot, lined basket, bowl or container of multipurpose compost or bulb fibre. You do not necessarily need to select a container with drainage holes for ‘prepared’ Hyacinths – make sure you use bulb fibre & take care not to overwater. A favourite ceramic bowl planted with Hyacinths can make a stunning display for Christmas.
  • For best effect plant odd numbers of bulbs in each container i.e. 3, 5 or 7.
  • You can plant several bulbs in the same container – position so that the bulbs are close together without touching.
  • Stick to one variety per pot, as hyacinths grow at different rates and flower at different times.
  • Make sure to plant the tips of the bulbs just above the surface, as this provides a good depth of compost for the roots to develop properly.
  • Place your potted bulbs in a cool, dark place to allow the roots to develop.
  • Check your pot/container regularly to ensure that the compost remains moist without being wet.
  • When the shoots are about 5-10cm tall, bring the container into a warm (light) position.
  • Full light is essential to prevent stems from becoming lanky, as they will topple under the weight of the flower heads. 

Top tips for getting the most out of your hyacinths:

  • When watering, avoid over-wetting the compost or allowing it to completely dry out.
  • After flowering, indoor hyacinths can be planted outdoors.
  • Hyacinths grown in the ground require little maintenance. Once the flowers have faded they can be removed, but allow time for the leaves to die back naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Will prepared hyacinths flower the next year if I keep them?
A: Yes, but only if you look after them. The common belief is that preparation treatment weakens the bulb, but there is no reason why they should not grow normally the following year.

2. Can I put hyacinths that have flowered indoors in the garden?
A: Yes you can, but the easiest thing to do is to plant them out, as soon as the flowers have faded, in the garden.

3. Should I plant hyacinths in sun or shade?
A: Hyacinths prefer a good, rich soil in full sun. In the shade they struggle and the spikes get thinner every year, until they will eventually dwindle away.

4. My indoor hyacinths have short stems – What’s the reason?
A: This is a common problem with hyacinths and occurs when bulbs are brought into the light and heat before the flower spike had grown enough to get beyond the neck of the bulb.

5. After my potted hyacinths have flowered, should I continue watering them?
A: Yes you should, once they have flowered you need to water and feed them about every week until they die down naturally. If not, they might not grow back the next year.

6. Why do my indoor hyacinths always flop over when in flower?
A: One of the reasons could be that the bulbs have been kept somewhere too warm when in flower. Try to keep your hyacinths as cool as possible. This will make them last longer, smell better and keep upright.