How to Force Hyacinth Bulbs

Q: Usually I force hyacinth bulbs on my grandmother’s pinch-waisted blue hyacinth glasses. I’d love to try something different. Any ideas?

You’ve discovered the fun of growing hyacinths on water—no soil is needed to grow these fragrant flowers with colourful waxy florets. For a stylish look that’s fresh and modern, try forcing your entire hyacinth in glass, instead of on one.

forcing hyacinth step 1

One: Place bulbs atop several inches of gravel. Add water to a level just beneath the bulbs, but not touching.

To root, cover the vase with a paper bag and place in a cool dark place approximately 7°C (45°F) for 11 to 14 weeks. A refrigerator works fine if you banish apples and ripening fruit; they give off an ethylene gas harmful to young flowers. Check the water level periodically.

When well-rooted and green growth begins, move the vase to a cool bright room.

forcing hyacinth step 2

Two: Enjoy hyacinth growth, contained for easy viewing “under glass.”

forcing hyacinth step 3

Three: Gorgeous hyacinths! Keep cool for longer enjoyment. Freshen water periodically, tip out and refill to a level “just not-touching” bulbs.

Optional: add a dash of activated charcoal to keep water freshest, look for it in the fish department of pet shops.