BRIAN KIDD: A sniff of hyacinths’ bouquet just in time for Christmas

Its Christmas... nearly. So start preparing your hyacinths now. Picture: PA Photos

Its Christmas... nearly. So start preparing your hyacinths now. Picture: PA Photos

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Prepared hyacinth bulbs are now available at garden centres and nurseries.

A tremendous number of gardeners love growing these bulbs because they have a very strong perfume.

Now is the time to plant them so they will be in flower at Christmas.

Traditionally hyacinths are planted in bowls without a hole in the base and bulb fibre is used instead of potting compost.

However, the trouble with bulbs planted in bowls is that once the flowers and foliage are about a foot tall, the plants fall over. This is very annoying.

The reason is that the bulb fibre is very light and tends to dry out quickly.

So have a go at this...

Buy a five or six-inch diameter clay pot with a hole in the base.

Soak the pot in water for an hour and let it dry out .

Now put some pieces of broken flower pot in the base and fill the pot to within three inches of the top with a good potting compost.

Put in three or five hyacinth bulbs, all of the same variety, and fill the pot to where you see the ridge at the top, making sure the noses of the bulbs are just above the surface of the compost.

Now water the pot well.

Hyacinths intended for Christmas flowering must be planted by September 14 and put somewhere cold and dark.

The garage floor is a good spot and a cardboard box put over the pot will keep the bulbs dark.

Have a look to make sure the pot is always moist and under these conditions the bulbs will produce a massive root. This is the secret of success.

During the first week of December the pot can be brought indoors as long as the shoots are four or five inches long.

If they are shorter, leave them for another week but make sure they are moist.

Once indoors, give the plants lots of light but not direct sunshine and the yellow leaves will turn green in about 10 days .

On Christmas morning your room will be full of perfume and when friends arrive you can proudly tell them that you grew them!

Now, what about the children?

Buy a hyacinth vase and a prepared bulb and the children can watch the roots grow, followed by the leaves and flowers.

Remember, children like to see things happen quickly, and you won’t have to keep bulbs in hyacinth vases in the dark.

I wrote about hyacinths because a lady who is blind asked me to suggest a winter flowering indoor plant with lots of perfume.

This feature is for you Christine.

TIP OF THE WEEK

If there is an embarrassing gap in a border, pop in a pot of grown cosmos. There are lots available at garden centres and cosmea continues to flower right up until the cold weather arrives.

Another good idea is to buy a potted dahlia in flower. Blooms will appear every week until the first frosts.

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