Even if your windows are frosted over with ice, you can enjoy the scents of spring with pots of blooming hyacinths scattered throughout your home.
With little effort or gardening skill, you can have a pot of these perfumed lovelies in every room. The stocky hyacinth is the only bulb other than the amaryllis that looks as good planted singly as it does in a group.
Hyacinths bloom 14 to 18 weeks after planting. They are easy to force, because they bloom in a variety of media -- in pebbles, soil, or water. Hyacinths can also be forced in hourglass-shape vases that allow the roots to be exposed to water while the bulb is kept dry and protected from rotting.
1. To force hyacinths in a hyacinth glass (any narrow-necked jar will do fine as long as the bulb is not immersed in water), place a bulb, roots down, on top of a water-filled container so the bottom of the bulb is in water. Make sure the base of the bulb just barely touches the surface of the water. Place in a dark, cool location until the bottom of the glass fills with roots. Then, move into the warmth and sunlight to activate the bloom process. Some garden centers sell prechilled hyacinth bulbs, which are quicker to bloom.
2. To force hyacinths in soil fill your pot half full with potting soil. Use a soil mix that retains moisture, but allows good drainage.
3. Place as many bulbs as you can, but don't let the bulbs touch. Their growing tips should be even with the top of the pot.
4. Water the bulbs thoroughly and label each pot with the planting date. Then move them to cold storage in a basement, garage, or refrigerator. Allow the bulbs to cool for 12 to 15 weeks to give them time to set an extensive root system. Once you see roots poking out of the bottom of the pot, or growth at the top of the bulb, move the pot to a sunny spot.