You Too Can Force Hyacinths To Bloom Indoors

Hyacinth Blue Pearl, first flush of flowers

Hyacinth Blue Pearl

It is easy to force hyacinths to bloom early indoors. Hyacinths are relatively cheap bulbs that come in a variety of flower colors: pink, blue, purple, yellow and white. Typically people purchase them in the fall to plant in the garden so they can enjoy their spring bloom. But you can also purchase them in the fall and mimic winter’s cold period by placing in the refrigerator for a few months. They need the cold period in order to bloom.

To force hyacinths, purchase the bulbs in the fall, place the bulbs in a paper bag, and put in the fridge. After about 10 weeks, take the bulbs out and plant in soil or water. Last year, at this time in November, I put three Blue Pearls in a brown paper lunch bag and put them in the fridge. I wrote a note to pull them out in 10 weeks but really forgot about them and pulled them out after 11 weeks in early February.

I put mine in my three forcing vases, which are pinched vases that allow the bulbs to sit above the water. I have had these vases for so many years I don’t know where they came from.  I have seen them for sale at large independent garden centers, through online garden supply stores, or sometimes as a boxed combo of bulb and vase. It is not necessary to use these though. You can place the bulbs on a layer of pebbles or marbles in a wide-mouthed jar, such as a jam or Mason jar, or in a container of soil.

Hyacinth Blue Pearl in Forcing Vases

Hyacinth Blue Pearl in forcing vases

My Blue Pearls sat in a sunny windowsill and later in February, within 3 weeks of taking them out of the fridge, they were in full bloom. This was one month before they would have bloomed if they been in the garden. The flowers tend to last, I got at least one month of bloom from these bubs.

Hyacinths are very fragrant indoors. You don’t notice as much when they are blooming outside but when you have three in one room, it gets to be a bit much so space them out and have one per room. Also, I think modern heated houses help to release the aroma whereas when they are forced indoors in old-fashioned homes with radiators or wood stoves, they are not as fragrant because it is not as warm.

When the bulbs are finished blooming, you can either put them in your compost pile or plant them in your garden in the summer. They have spent their energy and cannot be forced again. However, if left to grow and photosynthesize in the garden they should bloom the following spring. As they age, the florets are not as compact — there is more space among them — but still the bulbs last a long time in the garden. Hyacinths are very reliable in the DC metro area. Squirrels and deer do not bother them and they continue to flower year after year. Try forcing hyacinths in your home this year.

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