Forcing Hyacinth Flower Indoors

Botanical Name: Hyacinthus orientalis hybrids

You can find hyacinth flower in florist's shops in the middle of winter. It's more enjoyable, though, to force the bulbs yourself and watch them grow. And it's so easy to do.

hyacinth flower, forcing hyacinth bulbs, forcing hyacinth

Each bulb produces a thick flower stem, which carries dozens of small, waxy flowers. The hyacinth flower is highly fragrant and comes in stunning shades of blue, violet-blue, red, orange, pink, yellow or white. Surrounding the flower stems are narrow, upright leaves.

Naturally spring-flowering, hyacinth flower bulbs are easy to force into bloom mid-winter. The process is called forcing because the bulbs are tricked into behaving as if they've gone through a cold winter, then brought into warmth and sunshine as if it's spring.

Hyacinth bulbs need a cold treatment for 12 weeks to bloom. If you bought pre-chilled bulbs, you can skip this step.

You can begin the cold process anytime in fall. October is a good time to start for mid-winter blooms. If you have a lot of bulbs, you can plant just a few at a time, keeping the bulbs cold until you're ready to force them. This way, you'll have pots (or vases) in bloom throughout the winter and early spring.

Forcing Hyacinth Bulbs - Step by Step

  1. Choose a shallow pot (at least 3 in/7 cm deep) with drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the pot loosely with potting mix. Set bulbs side by side -- close but not touching -- pointed end up. Set bulbs so that their tips are even with pot rim. Do not press the bulbs into the mix. It should be loose so the roots can grow through it easily. Cover with additional potting mix, leaving the tips exposed.

  2. Water thoroughly and discard drainage.

  3. Move pot to a dark, cool, but not freezing, (40°F/4°C) location such as a basement, unheated garage or refrigerator. Avoid storing bulbs near ripening fruit or vegetables which give off ethylene gas that can damage the bulbs. Keep them in cold storage for about 12 weeks. Keep the medium barely moist.

  4. When shoots reach about 2 in (5 cm) tall, bring the pot out of cold storage and place it in a slightly warmer (50°F/10°C) location with low light intensity. Increase watering, keeping the soil evenly moist. Over the next few days, gradually move it toward a sunny window. Turn the pot every day for even growth. When in full bloom, keep hyacinth flower in a bright location out of direct sun to prolong the bloom.

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Want to grow hyacinth bulbs
in vases instead?

Hourglass-shaped hyacinth vases will hold the bulb in place while it's growing.

Keep the bottom of the vase filled with water, but don't allow the bulb to sit in water because it will rot.

Remember, it still needs chilling as described above. Keep the bulbs in a paper sack during the cold treatment. When you see it sprouting, bring the bulbs out and place them in the vases. Set vases in a bright, yet cool location.

Hyacinth Care Tips

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Origin: Turkey

Height: 8-12 in (20-30 cm). Hyacinth flower heads can get heavy and may need staking.

Light: Keep bulbs in a dark location during cold treatment. Cover pot with a box, pot or black garbage bag if necessary. After shoots appear, move to bright light as directed above.

Water: Keep the soil evenly moist.

Humidity: Average room humidity

Temperature: Cool 45-65°F/7-18°C

Soil: Any good potting mix. Hyacinths can also be grown in water.

Fertilizer: Not necessary

Propagation: Hyacinth bulbs that are forced into bloom indoors will not bloom a second time. They do produce offsets, which can be planted outdoors. If you want to keep them, allow the foliage to die back naturally, then cut it back. Store the offset bulbs in a cool, dry place. Plant the bulbs in your flower garden in the fall.

Green Thumb Tip

Make your flowers last longer by keeping the plant in a slightly cooler location. Blooms will last for 2-3 weeks if kept at a maximum of 65°F/18°C.

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White hyacinth

Buying Tip

You'll find hyacinth bulbs for sale in fall. Different varieties have different bloom times, so it's a good idea to plant the same variety in each pot, rather than to mix them.

'Woodstock' hyacinth hybrids are ideal for forcing indoors.

'Delft Blue', soft-orange 'Gypsy Queen', snowy white 'Carnegie', buttery yellow 'City of Haarlem' and 'Pink Pearl' varieties are also good choices.

growing hyacinths, hyacinth pictures

Blue hyacinth

Did you know...

Hyacinth is a genus in the Liliaceae family, along with tulips and lilies.

growing hyacinths, forcing hyacinth flower

Forcing hyacinth in vase