If there is a better Christmas or Hogmanay gift than forced flower bulbs then we have yet to discover it.
Paper White Daffodils and prepared Hyacinths are both easy to force, look beautiful, and add the most delightful scent to any home.
Forcing bulbs is also a wonderful activity for the whole family, children love the idea of growing Christmas Gifts…
Here is our simple guide to forcing Hyacinths and Paper White Daffodils…
To be in flower for Christmas planting must be completed by mid to late September.
Basically Hyacinths and Paper White Daffodils need around 10 weeks of cool conditions and 22 days indoors to bring them into flower.
First of all, buy the very best bulbs you can. The larger and firmer the bulbs the better. The Hyacinths need to be labelled as prepared to be able to flower for Christmas.
When handing the bulbs we always advise people, in particular children, to wear gloves as some people can get a mild skin irritation from the bulbs, which gloves prevent.
Select some plant pots that are about 3 inches across (even if you want to have a display in a decorative bowl, always start the bulbs in pots.)
Use a good quality bulb fibre or multipurpose compost.
Place one Hyacinth or several Daffodils in a pot, but make sure the bulbs do not touch.
Plant them so the nose of the bulb (the pointy top bit) is just above the surface of the compost.
Water well allowing them to drain thoroughly.
At the Borders Gardener we always advise labelling the bulbs, at least with the colour, to stop mistakes later!
Now you need to force them…
The two things that bulbs need at this stage are darkness and cool temperatures.
We often use an old wardrobe in the garage, but a dark corner of a shed is fine, as long as it is totally dark and cool the bulbs will be happy.
After around 10 weeks (do check on them every week or two) your bulbs will be ready to be brought into flower.
You will know they are ready to bring into flower because roots will have developed and the nose of the bulb will have a bud around 1 – 2 inches long. (The daffodils can have much longer growth that may need a small cane to support it)
Bring the bulbs into a warm room, but out of direct sunlight, and allow the leaves to green up.
After a few days they can be moved to a sunnier brighter windowsill.
If you seem to be getting a lot of leaves then move them somewhere cooler.
Check to make sure they have enough water.
After a few days the Hyacinth bulbs will be showing flower buds. You will notice some of these are larger than the others and some are smaller; this is why we potted the bulbs into individual pots.
If you are giving gifts in decorative containers, these should be filled with bulb fibre or multipurpose compost at this stage.
Select Hyacinth bulbs of the same size and colour (to ensure they all flower at the some time) and pot them up into the container.
If they look as if they are going to flower before Christmas pop them into a cool back bedroom.
If on the other hand they look as if they will never be in flower for Christmas move them into a warmer room.
Then get ready for appreciative smiles as you give beautiful, home-grown gifts this Christmas.
If you would like any more help or advice on forcing bulbs, just ask Neil or any of the Plant Centre Team.