Want some bulbous beauties in time for Christmas? Brian Kidd tells you how

Christmas perfume anyone? Plant prepared hyacinths now.
Christmas perfume anyone? Plant prepared hyacinths now.
Southsea Greenhouse

SOUTHSEA GREEN with Sue Stokes

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Dear Brian, please remember that a lot of your readers don’t have a garden but love to grow plants indoors. Can you tell us how to grow hyacinths and can we get them into bloom for Christmas?’

This letter arrived from Isobel who lives in Southsea.

As you know I try to reply to every letter and this week I know Isobel’s will be welcomed by quite a few of you lovely readers .

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 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.

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

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

So, have a go at this...

Buy a 5in or 6in-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 flower pot in the base.

Fill the pot to within 3in of the top with a good potting compost.

Put in three or five PREPARED 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 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. Make sure the pot is always moist and under these conditions the bulbs will produce a big root. That’s the secret of success.

In the first week of December the pot can be brought indoors as long as the shoots are 4in to 5in high. 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 become 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 see the roots grow, followed by the leaves and flowers.

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


The next fortnight is the best time to sow a lawn from seed. Keep an eye out for the weather because it will be good if it rains as soon as the grass seed is sown. Look at the various mixes available and don’t buy the cheapest. Modern rye grasses in good quality seed grow well, stay green and don’t need so much mowing.