I thought we would stay indoors this week because I have been reading your letters and as I have mentioned so many times, the weeds have been rampant this year.
As soon as we remove the large ones the ground is carpeted with seedlings and in the case of chickweed a single seedling will produce a covering of foliage the size of a saucer in 10 days.
Miss James has asked me to write about hyacinths for indoor perfume. She asks if it’s essential to buy prepared bulbs or whether ordinary ones will be OK?
Prepared hyacinth bulbs are now available at garden centres and nurseries. Many gardeners love growing them because they have such a strong scent.
Now’s the time to plant them so they will be in flower at Christmas and for this it is essential to buy prepared bulbs.
If you want to grow them in pots, containers or the garden, ordinary bulbs are perfect, but they will flower in spring about the same time as daffodils.
Traditionally hyacinths are planted in bowls without a hole in the base and bulb fibre is used instead of potting compost. But the trouble with bulbs in bowls is that once the flowers and foliage are about a foot tall, the plants topple over. This is annoying.
It happens because bulb fibre is very light and dries out quickly.
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, let it dry out and then put pieces of broken flowerpot in the bottom. Now fill the pot to within three inches of the top with a good potting compost.
Put in three or five hyacinth bulbs, all 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 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 over the pot will keep the bulbs dark.
Make sure the pot is always moist and under these conditions the bulbs will produce a massive root. This is the secret of success.
In the first week in December the pot can be brought indoors as long as the shoots are about four inches high. If shorter, leave them for another week but ensure they’re moist.
Once indoors, give the plants lots of light but not direct sun and the yellow leaves will turn green in about 10 days and on Christmas morning your room will be full of perfume. When friends arrive, you can proudly tell them you grew them.
Now, what about children? Buy a hyacinth vase and a prepared bulb so they can see the roots grow, followed by the leaves and flowers. Children like to see things happen quickly.
You won’t have to keep bulbs in hyacinth vases in the dark.
THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP
If there is an embarrassing gap in a border, pop in a pot-grown cosmos. There are lots available at garden centres and they continue 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 frost.