Growing Hyacinths in Water

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Growing hyacinths in waterGrowing any flowering plant in the dead of winter can be a challenge, but when the ground outside is hard, cold and devoid of anything green, it is a joy to have something beautiful and fragrant in the home. 

Florist at that time of year can charge outrageous fees for blooming plants but you can have your own for only a few dollars if you plan ahead. 

Hyacinths are a strongly scented spring flowering bulb that is surprisingly easy to grow out of season. 

Probably one of the simpler ways to grow hyacinths is in water in a special vase. While these vases are sold in garden centers and florist shops strictly for this purpose any vase with a narrow top where the bulb can sit without totally being immersed in water would be suitable.

Follow this plan and you can have a houseful of fragrance in the middle of winter for yourself or to give as gifts to family and friends.
Hyacinths range in colour from purple, pink, red, white and yellow. Most retail stores start discounting their spring bulbs once the ground has frozen and there is little chance of people digging in their gardens. 

While it has always been suggested that people buy forcing bulbs in reality there is only a few weeks difference between bulbs that have been pre chilled for forcing and those that have not. The chilling time for hyacinths will range from 8 to 12 weeks so if you are trying to force them for a specific occasion start well before hand. 

The two conditions that you need for forcing is darkness and keeping them chilled. You ideally want to have the temperature at about 40 F and no more than 50 F. The best places for this would be in a cold cellar or in a garage. Where ever you chose you start them make sure that there is no light on them and that they will not fall victim to mice. If you leave them in a garage think about putting a plastic bin over them to keep them safe but easily accessible so you can check on them.

Look for large bulbs that have no blemishes and that are firm to the touch and have no soft spots. You should be careful handling them with bare hands as they are sometimes dusted with a antifungal that can cause itching and hives.  

Realize that if you are at a garden center where the bulbs are sold loose in bins that there will be a very good chance that someone has mixed up the bulbs and the colour that is stated on the bin might not be the colour that you will get. If you are trying to grow just one colour then examine all the bulbs to make sure they look alike, while this is not foolproof at least you will be weeding out the obviously different ones. Different coloured bulbs tend to bloom at different times.

Hyacinth rootsThe glass that you will be growing the bulbs in should have a narrow opening and a wide base. 

You can buy specific glasses for this but it is not necessary. The top photo shows only one of the bulb in a hyacinth glass while the other two are just small flower vases. 

While many people find the white roots decorative others prefer not to see them and use dark coloured glass to grow the hyacinth bulb in, this way they can still see if there is enough water in the glass but the roots are not so prominent.

You simply have to fill the glass that you are using with water and place the bulb on top. The bottom of the bulb should just kiss the water. And that's it. 

Place the bulb in water in your designated dark cold area and check on it every few days to make sure that the water is still just touching the bottom of the bulb and add water as needed. You will find that the roots will start to grow quite quickly. 

Once the roots start to grow the water does not have to touch the bulb and you can have a tiny gap. If you want to have a succession of flowers then start your bulbs one week apart. 

When the bulb has grown about 4 inches high then take it from your cold area and place it in a bright cool room with no direct sunlight. As the bulb acclimatizes you can put it in a warmer area but never put it in full sun as it will make the water start to go cloudy and green. The cooler the room that it is in the longer the bloom will last. You can have your hyacinth bloom for up to two weeks.

Growing Hyacinths in water is a simple, cheap and money saving way to bring spring into your home early.



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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2009
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2 Comments

I have a plant that was grown in water. should I take the bulb out of the water now that the plant dying away? If so, when should I return it to the water?

If you are growing a hyacinth in water then when the blooms dies you can plant the bulb in your garden and it will bloom there next spring. Unfortunately you will not be able to grow the bulb in water for a second year.

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