GARDENING: Hyacinths for Christmas – Brian Kidd’s tips

Pots like these will stop your hyacinths toppling over.
Pots like these will stop your hyacinths toppling over.
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Many readers write to me and very often the subject of fragrance in the garden crops up. Like you, Pam and I adore flowers which are perfumed and hyacinths are almost overpowering.

Prepared hyacinth bulbs are now available at garden centres and nurseries and a tremendous number of gardeners love growing these bulbs because of their  strong scent .

Now is the time to plant them so they can be forced into  flower at Christmas.

When  looking at the bulbs you will notice that prepared (heat-treated) hyacinths are more expensive than the  others, but  they can be brought indoors with flowers at Christmas.

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

Bu t the trouble with bulbs planted in bowls is that once the  flowers and foliage is about a foot tall, the plants fall over and 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, half- size in depth,  clay pot with a hole is the base.

 Soak the pot in water for an hour. L et it dry out and then put pieces of broken clay  flowerpot 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. Make sure the noses of the bulbs are just above the surface of the compost. Now water the pot well .

Prepared 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.

 Examine regularly  to make sure the pot is always moist and under these conditions the bulbs will produce a massive root. And this is the secret of success. 

During the first week in December the pot can be brought indoors as long as the shoots are four to five inches long. I f 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 become green is 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 will be able to watch the roots grow, followed by the leaves and flowers.

Remember, children like to see things happen quickly, you won’t have to keep the glass in the dark and the flowers will come into bloom in January.

All parts of hyacinths, if ingested,  cause stomach upset and gloves should be worn when handling the bulbs as they may aggravate skin allergies. 

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIPS

Now’s the best time for sowing a lawn from seed. Watch the forecast. You need rain as soon as seed is sown. Don’t buy cheap seed. Modern rye grasses in quality seed grow well, stay green and don’t need as much mowing.