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Forcing Hyacinth bulbs – When and how to force Hyacinth bulbs so they flower earlier

Last updated on March 29th, 2022

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Hyacinth bulbs are a wonderful way to brighten your home during the winter, and what’s more, they are quite simple to grow. With these, you can enjoy an indoor display out of season. Of course, doing so successfully means knowing how and when to force the bulbs, otherwise, the display won’t be when or how you want it. 

When to Force Hyacinth Bulbs

You can enjoy fragrant blooms starting around Christmas time and moving onwardS if you begin planting from the start of September until the middle of October, every two weeks. 

How to force hyacinth bulbs

How to Force Hyacinth Bulbs

As you plant them, you want to maintain a temperature around 9°C for 6 weeks if the bulbs are prepared. If the bulbs are not, then you need to maintain the temperature for 10 weeks.

If you go to a local garden centre or nursery, you can buy normal garden Hyacinth bulbs (NOT PREPARED) and you can also buy Prepared Hyacinths especially for growing indoors. Non-prepared Hyacinths can still be used but need to be maintained at a cool temperature for longer.

Learn more about planting prepared Hyacinths so they flower for Christmas in this guide

Forcing bulbs

If you need to force the Hyacinth bulbs, pick good varieties of various colours to incorporate a wide array of decoration, but don’t mix different varieties in the same pot. In this regard, forcing the bulb simply means coaxing it to bloom out of season by making it think it has already been through winter, which is how you get the stunning display during the winter months indoors. 

What you will need

You will need pots that are at least 20cm in diameter (more than one if you have lots of bulbs of different varieties to grow), gloves, bulbs, and multipurpose compost. 

when to force hyacinth bulbs

Planting the bulbs

Step 1

Fill the pots halfway with your compost. Leave it loose, without pushing it down. This makes it easier for the roots to push through. If you compact the compost you will find that the bulbs push themselves out of the compost.

Step 2

Put the bulbs on the surface of the compost, but take care not to let them touch other bulbs or the side of the pot. It is not uncommon to have allergic reactions to the bulbs, so it is advisable to wear gloves during this part. 

Step 3

Fill in the area around the bulbs with more compost until you get 2cm below the rim of the pot. The tips of the bulbs should still be showing. At this point, you can firm the compost around the bulbs gently being careful not to compress the compost too much. 

Step 4

Water the bulbs, but take care not to overwater if your containers don’t have enough drainage holes.

Step 5  – This step is very important

Place the containers in a dark, cool area like your garage, shed, or cellar. Leave them to chill but make sure you check on them regularly to ensure the compost hasn’t dried out. Wait until the shoots have reached 5cm in height and then you can move the pots indoors and give them light. This process usually takes around 6 weeks for prepared Hyacinths and 10 weeks for normal Hyacinth bulbs.

Within about 3 weeks, they should flower. If they look like they will flower a little earlier, keep them in a cool room. If they look like aren’t far enough on, place them somewhere a little warmer.

Following these steps, you can force the bulbs throughout the winter and subsequent seasons. Inside, they can thrive under cool conditions and will soon fill your home with a rich, wonderful fragrance and of course, a stunning floral display. If we’re noting you can also do this with daffodils too, of which the miniature daffodils are a good choice to try with.

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