Without wanting to talk about the festive season too early, there is one festive thing I like to start in October and that is planting hyacinth bulbs for indoor blooms at Christmas.
Now, Christmas in our house isn’t a very big affair, and what decorations we do have are mostly plant-based (apart from the pet-proof wooden Christmas tree).
The house is normally bedecked with wreaths full of holly, pheasant feathers and evergreens, vases full of red dogwood and light fittings wrapped in ivy.
But one of my favourite things – for both their colour and scent – are indoor hyacinths.
For years I struggled to get organised enough to remember to plant them ahead of time now I religiously do it every year.
Hyacinths need a little bit of love, but after planting they pretty much look after themselves.
My mixture of blue and white bulbs have just been planted in an array of vessels from old chamber pots to Sylvac vases.
Now, for indoor hyacinths, you need prepared bulbs and after planting and leaving them in a cool, dark place, they rapidly grow and should be in bloom for Christmas, filling the house with their beautiful colour and scent.
So if you fancy giving it a go, this is what you do:
- Buy your hyacinths! These must be labelled as prepared hyacinths, these are treated to ensure early flowering for Christmas
- Buy some bulb fibre compost, this is good for using in containers that have no drainage holes
- Choose your container – this could be a normal plant pot (without holes) or any other vessel like a pottery vase or chamber pot
- Pop some compost into the container and wet it before placing your hyacinths on top. I always plant them in odd numbers, this is the the key to a pleasing arrangement
- Make sure the bulbs aren’t touching each other or the edge of the container, leave spaces of at least 1cm
- Cover the bulbs in compost making sure the tops of the bulbs are just visible through the surface of the compost. Also leave about 1cm between the top of the compost and the top of the container to aid watering
- Place the planted container in a dark, cool place. I always place in a black bin liner in a cool place, like a shed or garage
- Keep checking to make sure it doesn’t dry out and water little if needed
- Once the bulbs start to sprout and the shoots reach about 5cm, you can bring the containers in to a cool room away from direct light to allow the leaves to darken
- Then you can move them onto a window sill or nearer to light in a warmer room
- When roots have developed and the shoots are 4-5cm long (1½-2in), the pots can be brought indoors
- Initially, bring pots into a cool room away from bright light to allow the leaves to green up
- Then move them close to a window in warmer surroundings and keep the watered. I often pick some moss and lay it on top of the compost, it helps to retain moisture and looks decorative too
- If you follow these steps you should have gorgeous, fragrant hyacinths for the festive season!
Let me know how you get on…