Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Forcing Hyacinthus Orientalis bulbs for Christmas Days

Hyacinth flowerbed in spring

I love to have in Christmas days some showy,  highly-fragrant flowers in the midst of all this winter. With charming elegance, multicolor flowers and wonderful fragrance, Hyacinth is an overlooking flowering plant easy to grow indoor. Hyacinthus Orientalis plants with small bell-shaped flowers looking like small starfish belonging to lily family (Liliaceae), are very popular in Mediterranean area (my native area), being also named:  The Dutch, Common Hyacinth,Garden Hyacinth,  Zambila or Iacint.

Hyacinthus orientalis flowerbedHyacinths were grown in Europe in the time of the Greeks and Romans. Homer reminded their flowers in his Odyssey:     "... Athene, the daughter of Zeus, made him greater and more mighty to behold, and from his head caused deep curling locks to flow, like the hyacinth flower." Homer, Odyssey.

 and accordingly to the Greek Mythology, the Hyacinth flower was made by Apollo from Hyacinthos's spilled blood , in the memory of the Hyacinthos, son of Amyclas, a beautiful youth loved by Apollo and Zephyr. A small fragment of Apollo's melodramatic speech when he did this:
" And evermore shall thou live as a flower that will speak to the hearts of men of spring, of everlasting youth—of life that lives forever." Greek Mythology

Usually in garden, they start blooming  in the beginning of spring if are planted in sunny locations. After the blooming season, at the beginning of July, I dag out the hyacinth bulbs, then I kept them indoor (at 22-25 °C) for few weeks. The bulbs should be planted in flowerbeds at the beginning of September, if you want them to decorate your garden in March.

Hyacinthus orientalis sprouted bulbs
Sprouted Hyacinth Bulbs
Hyacinthus orientalis bulbs
Hyacinth bulbs
But it is so enjoyable to plant them in home conditions in any season,  to force the bulbs yourself and watch them grow. You have to keep the bulbs in a cold environment and safe from drafts and heat until you are ready to force them.  You can choose from a lot of varieties with double-flowering and non-double-flowering and a large array of colors: white, pink, purple red, orange, salmon, yellow, blue or lavender.

Hyacinthus orientalis indoor flowerThe naturally spring-flowering bulbs could be tricked to behave as gone through a cold winter (keeping  for 12-13 weeks in complete darkness under the temperature of +5°C) , then, after  hyacinth bean takes roots and produce sprouts 2-2.5cm tall, brought them in a cool (better 20°C) and well enlightened place in the house.  After 2-3 weeks they will flower and once the flowers begin to open, your room will be filled with a pleasant fragrance.

Well, I began this process in September with few bulbs, in order to have in my house blooming Hyacinths throughout Christmas season. I kept the bulbs in a black plastic box  in the refrigerator, spraying them twice a week to keep the moisture level inside the box. Now, the "spring arrived" for them, and I was looking after my old bulb pots to place into them the sprouted hyacinths. Hope I'll have fragrant flowers in Christmas days.


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