blue hyacinth

With the balcony in hibernation, I am forced to force spring bulbs indoors. I have a couple of Victorian style hyacinth glasses, so I’m using a sort of vintage hydroponic method (a nutrient solution of course not being necessary since the bulbs contain enough for a first flowering).

To have hyacinths for Christmas, they should be started about two months in advance. The vases are filled with water and the bulb rests on the waist.  To prevent the bulb from rotting, the water must not actually touch the bulb; moisture evaporating should be enough for the pearlescent white roots to start growing down. Keep the bulbs somewhere dark and cool – a box on the balcony will suffice. If you don’t have a hyacinth glass, you can stick four tooth picks in a bulb and rest it on top of a jar instead. If you have the glass but not the time or patience, my mother’s secret tip is to buy the hyacinths already in bloom, wash the soil off the roots and carefully train them into the water.

The winter light has given these photos a tint the colour of the delft blue hyacinth – my favourite.  Blue hyacinths also tend to have the strongest scent.

IMG_1675Amaryllis however, must be forced in soil. Preferably sandy. Mine is a Christmas latecomer and curiously, it looks like the second bud is about to open first.  The cat rarely misses a photo opportunity.