Hyacinths "On Vase"

Another ritual of winter gardening has been completed here at May Dreams Gardens. This morning, I got out the hyacinth vases, filled them with water and placed a chilled hyacinth bulb on top of each one.

Then I placed them on the window sill where they will soon develop roots and shoots. Then just about the time we are despairing that spring will ever get here, they’ll be in bloom. I have ten lined up all in a row, guaranteed to provide enough scent to give me a good-sized headache.

I can hardly wait.

As with most aspects of gardening, there is more than one way to force hyacinths.

I buy the bulbs in the fall and put them in a bag in the back of the refrigerator to chill for a few months until, oh, about now.

Elizabeth from Gardening While Intoxicated buys her bulbs about the same time, but puts them on the vases and then chills them in her cellar, “on vase”. (She also forces way more bulbs then I do, way more.)

Either way seems to work, but when you chill the bulbs in the refrigerator, there is the risk that the bulbs will mold. If I had a cold cellar, I might prefer chilling “on vase”. (I like that phrase “on vase”)

Fortunately, this year, none of my bulbs molded, and I had five left over after setting up eleven vases with bulbs “on vase”.

I think I’ll try to force the left over bulbs in a pot with dirt. I have the bulbs, I have enough pots, and I always have potting soil on hand, so I have nothing to lose by trying, except maybe a little time.

But it’s time I’ll be spending with my hands in the dirt, so I don’t mind. We are, after all, just starting phase 3 of winter gardening, so there isn’t much I can be do outside in the real dirt.

If all goes well with the hyacinths, I should start to see roots in a few weeks, and have hyacinths blooming “on vase” by mid February, just in time for the start of my third year of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Is anyone else forcing hyacinths “on vase”?


  1. I had NO IDEA you were as bad as our friend in Buff with all those hyacinth forcing vases! You have one incredible display to look forward to in the coming weeks.

  2. I love them, but to touch them gives me a wonderful rash. They smell so lovely, fragrant, fresh. A herald of the upcoming spring.

    So I settle for purchasing forced bulbs that someone else has touched, those seem to work for me.

    And lots of Amaryllis, I wrote about the poor thing's demise in today's post. One of these days.....


  3. Carol, those look great, and that is exactly how I am going to display mine, which are still having their last chill in the back room.

    You should have no problem doing the rest in pots. (You don't say what kind they are, though)

    Thanks for the link!

  4. I think I need a couple Hyacinth vases. I've got 1 Hyacinth in a fancy pot, but I haven't forced Hyacinths in years. They have the most wonderful scent.

  5. I planted my hyacinths outside. I should have forced them inside, to enjoy them more. Maybe next year I'll think to do that.

    Can't wait to see yours bloom!

  6. Carol, it is a long time since I have grown hyacinths indoors. I always find they get too tall, leggy and fall over! I do grow some in the garden.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)
    PS I have a new guest post in www.tulipsinthewoods.com due out tomorrow.

  7. I'll have to keep a lookout for those hyacinth forcing vases. It seems like a good project for kids, too.

  8. Wow Carol. Your ten bulbs tell me you're an optimist. With me, it's always a race between the forced bulbs to grow and bloom before the cat knocks them off the windowsill. I'm waiting another two weeks for my refrigerated bulbs to be ready to plant. I've got purple iris to go in a blue pot and some other stuff I ordered months ago and won't remember until I dig them out to plant outdoors.
    Happy and horticulturally rich 2009 to you.

  9. How embarrassing! I have the vases but have never tried to force the bulbs. I guess I didn't realize it was as easy as you and Elizabeth make it sound. And I don't have a wonderful location like you do in that shot of all the vases lined up. Whew, that certainly sounds like someone making excuses ...

  10. Can't wait to see them all blooming! I used to be good about doing the indoor bulb thing, but nowadays I just enjoy others. For some reason, as much as I'm good with the plants outdoors, me and indoor plants (even plants that are usually outdoor) don't seem to work together. Sad. Fortunately I live in a place with a very long outdoor gardening season!
    ~Angela :-)

  11. You make me wish I was but my hyacinth jars are in the cupboard with nothing in them. I'll certainly enjoy yours in February.

  12. I force hyacinths "on vase" as well. Right now they are in the basement in an unheated crawlspace. The last time I checked, I had one that looked like it may not sprout and will get moldy, so it's not limited to refrigerator stored bulbs. You can see the beginning of the process at http://jellyfishbay.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/recipe-for-forcing-hyacinths/
    I should be bringing them out anyday now to display.

  13. I would love to try this someday. Where does one find the special vases for forcing the bulbs?


  14. I have a vase but nothing to put on it. Your collection of vases with bulbs on them looks exciting. It will be fun to see them all blooming.

    "On vase" sounds so official. Such a serious endeavor.

  15. I forced about 10 hyacynths to have them ready for Christmas and they bloomed December 28! However, my home now smells wonderful and putting away the Christmas decorations wasn't nearly as traumatic as it usually is!

  16. Wow, never thought to start house plants like hyacinths or anything else. Our lack of sunlight is a factor but I could do this.
    What a great way to keep the spark of gardening alive durning this fridged time of the year.

  17. I've never tried forcing hyacinths in this way; you are going to have a beautiful display on that window seat soon!
    I don't have many good, sunny spots indoors for houseplants--I'm going to have to satisfy myself with finding some "winter smiles" outside.

  18. I have hyacinth vases, but my preference is to put them in stones the way paperwhites are forced. So, I have half a dozen, 'in bowl' and gave away 4 'in mug' to friends at Christmas so they could enjoy the growth process.

    They're bloom in time for Valentine's, if not before.

    Jean, Seedscatterer and bulb forcer.

  19. Hi i am a newbie here and just loved ur hyacinth vases, i had mine in pot but Will try to force bulbs next year!!


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