The garden in winter is often dull, dreary, and colorless. However, you can add pops of colors inside your home by forcing your hyacinth bulbs to bloom before spring. Instead of planting the bulbs in the yard and waiting for the blooms to burst forth, you can make them bloom before spring by growing them indoors in water.
Here are the seven steps of growing indoor hyacinths in water:
- Buy pre-chilled bulbs.
- Use a bulb vase.
- Pour water into the vase.
- Place the bulb in the vase.
- Put the vase in a cool, dark place.
- Move the vase into light when shoots appear.
- Move the vase to a warmer and brighter place.
To force hyacinth bulbs to bloom indoors in water during winter, you must create an environment that mimics their natural growing conditions. Maintaining the right temperature and lighting conditions is critical, as is providing a steady supply of water to the bulb as it sends down its roots. I will explain all the steps of growing indoor hyacinths in water in this article.
1. Buy Pre-Chilled Bulbs
Spring-blooming bulbs like hyacinths have to go through a period of cold temperatures before they bloom. You have to chill the bulbs if you want to force your hyacinths to bloom outside of their natural growing conditions, such as indoors or during winter.
Are you willing to pre-chill your bulbs, and do you have the time and place for the job? Then keep in mind the following tips:
- Place the bulbs in the refrigerator. You can place them in the crisper tray of the refrigerator to control the temperature. Plant the bulbs in containers or put them in ventilated mesh bags before placing them in the fridge.
- Place potted bulbs away from fruits and vegetables. If you store the hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator, keep them away from fruits and vegetables. Certain fruits and veggies emit ethylene gasses that can rot the bulbs.
- Ensure the ambient temperature is between 35 °F (1.7 °C) and 45 °F (7.2 °C). Hyacinth bulbs should be kept cool, not frozen. If your refrigerator is too cold for the bulbs, you can store them in an unheated mudroom, garage, or attic.
- You can bury the bulbs in the ground in a cold climate. If you live in a cold climate, you can bury the bulbs in the ground. You can plant the bulbs in containers and bury the containers in the ground to insulate the bulbs from the cold and moisture.
- Protect the bulbs in the ground from animals. If there are voles or squirrels in your garden, protect the bulbs by covering them with hardware cloth or chicken coop wire.
- Keep the soil moist. Use a spray bottle to lightly mist the soil and keep it moist but not soggy.
- Remove the bulbs when leaves, stems, and buds appear. Wash the soil from the hyacinth bulbs, and they are ready to be grown indoors in water.
Hyacinth bulbs have to be chilled for about 12 weeks before producing a flower bud. If you don’t have the time or space to pre-chill the bulbs, you can buy pre-chilled bulbs from a garden center.
Pre-chilled bulbs are slightly more expensive than the ones that are not chilled. However, the chilled bulbs will speed up the growing process by 8-12 weeks.
Ensure that you keep the pre-chilled bulbs cool until you place them in water. Store them in the refrigerator till you are ready to grow them in water.
2. Use a Bulb Vase
Hyacinth bulbs need to be placed in containers where they can be suspended just above the water level, and the roots can grow into the water. You can use jam jars, little vases with narrow necks, and narrow-mouthed Mason jars. You can also use small teacups for large hyacinth bulbs.
You can also use a bulb vase.
A bulb vase or a forcing jar is a special glass jar shaped like an hourglass. The bottom compartment holds water while the bulb is placed in the neck of the vase.
3. Pour Water Into the Vase
Now that you have chilled your bulbs and acquired an appropriate container to grow them in, it’s time to start the growing process. To prepare your vase for the hyacinth bulbs, follow these simple steps:
- Pour water into the bottom compartment of the jar. Ensure that the water is clean.
- Consider adding a tablespoon of aquarium-grade charcoal to the water to keep it clean and clear.
It is essential that the water you use is clean. Before adding your bulb to the vase, make sure the water within is clear.
4. Place the Bulb in the Vase
Place the hyacinth bulb above the cinched neck of the jar. Ensure that the bulb does not touch the water. It should ideally remain 5 mm (0.2 in) above the surface of the water.
It’s important to note that the bulb will rot if it remains submerged in water.
5. Put the Vase in a Cool, Dark Place
Place the jar in a cool, dark place, such as inside a cupboard or an unheated basement, attic, or garage. The area’s temperature should be between 40 °F (4.4 °C) and 55 °F (12.8 °C).
The roots of the hyacinth will grow into the water at the bottom of the jar.
Meanwhile, ensure that you carry out the following tasks diligently:
- Check the jar every day and ensure the water is clean.
- Change the water when it becomes murky.
- Ensure that you tuck in the roots of the bulb when you replace it after changing the water.
- Refill to ensure that the water is at a level where the roots remain submerged.
- Ensure that the bulb does not touch the water after refilling or changing water.
6. Move the Vase Into Light When Shoots Appear
Keep an eye on your hyacinth bulbs. You need to move them to a warmer and brighter place when the pale greenish-yellow sprout is about two inches tall and the roots have grown to the bottom of the jar. As the sprout thickens, the bud encircled by the foliage will also develop, looking and feeling chunky.
Here’s what you must remember when moving your bulbs:
- Move the jar where there is bright, indirect light. However, protect the bulb from harsh, direct sunlight. So, do not place the vase in the greenhouse or on a windowsill that receives direct rays of the sun.
- Ensure the temperature is about 50-60 °F (10-15.5 °C). Do not place the bulbs outside where the temperature can be too low for the tender sprouts. Although indoor plants can recover from cold shock, their growth will slow down considerably or may not be as vigorous as you desire.
- Look out for signs of stress. Look out for brown spots that can be a sign of cold shock. Move the plant to a warmer location if you notice these spots.
- Rotate the jar regularly. This ensures all parts of the plant receive equal light, and the flowering spike remains erect.
7. Move the Vase to a Warmer and Brighter Place
Move the hyacinth bulb to a warmer place when the shoots turn green. The vibrant green color indicates that the plant is now fully acclimatized to light and producing chlorophyll.
Keep the following in mind as you let the bulbs grow:
- Ensure the temperature remains around 65-70 °F (18.3-21.1 °C). This temperature is probably lower than it is in most rooms in your house. You can place the bulbs in the coolest room of the house, which would likely be on the northern side.
- Keep the bulb out of direct sunlight. The bulb should receive bright, indirect light. Also, keep the jar away from drafts from heating vents.
- Check the water level in the jar regularly. Refill when necessary, and ensure the bulb remains suspended above the water level.
- Rotate the jar. All parts of the plant should receive equal light to prevent the flower spike from flopping over.
It takes about 12 to 20 weeks to force hyacinths to bloom indoors. When the buds begin to sport their characteristic vibrant hues, you can place the jars where you and your guests can enjoy their beauty and soak in their fragrance.
Hyacinth blooms grown in water typically last for four weeks before the flowers start to droop and wilt.
Sadly, indoor hyacinths grown in water usually do not regrow. You cannot force more flowers from the bulbs because they have already lost their nutrients after flowering the first time.
The key to growing indoor hyacinths in water is to create just the right temperature and lighting conditions that force the bulbs to emerge from their period of dormancy and bloom.
Keep in mind the following when growing indoor hyacinths in water:
- Buy pre-chilled bulbs to slash growing time.
- Place the bulb in the container and ensure it does not touch the water.
- Maintain the appropriate temperature and light conditions.
- Maintain adequate water levels within the jar while ensuring the bulb does not touch the water.