How to Force Hyacinth Bulbs
Most fall-planted bulbs (such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth) require a chilling period in order for them to bloom and grow correctly. In climates where the winter temperatures remain cold enough for an adequate period of time (zones 2 through 7), this chilling period is provided naturally when bulbs are planted outdoors. However, if planting outdoors is not an option or you are located in zone 8, 9, or 10, chilling needs to be provided some other way. When this is done, it is referred to as forcing the flower bulbs. Basically, you are forcing the bulbs to grow and bloom through artificial means.
Even if you live in a climate that allows you to grow bulbs outside, doesn’t mean you can’t try to force them inside! You’ll get a little dose of spring for the inside! Hyacinths are the best bulbs to force because of their bright cheery colors to wash away the winter blues. The wonderful fragrance evokes feelings of spring. Hyacinths can be forced in vases with water or in pots with soil.
Basic steps for forcing hyacinths:
- Purchase hyacinth bulbs from Holland Bulb Farms. Any color of hyacinth can be forced. Choose which color it is based on your preference.
- Select a container to grow the hyacinths in. The container can be a small 4-8” diameter pot with drain holes. A vase made for forcing can also be used to force hyacinths.
- If growing the hyacinths in pots use soil that drains well. Keeping the soil is loose is critical to good root growth. Plant the hyacinths in the containers with 1/3 of the top of the bulb visible above soil level.
- Find a place you can keep the pots or vases of hyacinths that is between 45 and 35 degrees for 10-12 weeks.
- Water the bulbs after planting, prior to placing them in cold storage. While the bulbs are in cold storage keep the soil moist by lightly misting the soil with a spray bottle.
- After 10-12 weeks of cold storage, move the pots to a cool location. This location should be between 60 and 65 degrees. Keep the pots in the cool location for 1-2 weeks to gradually expose them to the warmer temperatures. Provide water if the soil appears especially dry.
- After 1-2 weeks gradually move the pots to a sunny location. Stagger when you take them to a warm location so you can lengthen the bloom time over several weeks.
- Once they are done blooming, discard the bulbs as they most likely will not have any energy remaining to allow for blooms in the future.
Want to take forcing hyacinths a step further? Try mixing in some crocus and daffodils! Learn how to force bulbs indoors this winter here.