Monday, December 5, 2011

Potting up Hyacinths for the Season

All the Swedish blogs I read have hyacinths for Advent. When I bought hyacinth bulbs in the fall when they were first in stores, I forgot to put mine in to chill. They were not ready for potting in time for Christmas I'm afraid, unless they really grow in the next 3 weeks. Not to worry, they make great gifts when only a few leaves are showing and the promise of a bud to enjoy during the cold dark days of winter.
Any container that will hold water got as many bulbs as it could hold.

Containers with a drainage hole got a liner.

Some bulbs went into pots of soil for
decorating later with raffia and moss.

Blue Hyacinths
by Roger Elkin
Like bruises, she remembers thinking
as she fingered the bulbs, their paper-wafery skins
tinged with the shifting iridescence
she'd last seen on mussel-shells.
That was six weeks to a day before the grim diagnosis.
She'd chanced on them - three firm orbs peeking through
a Woolworth's bag her husband had stashed at the back
of her utility drawer - a temporary forgetfulness.

Sensing time was running out, and as surprise for him
she'd taken them, firming them in fresh compost,
and recalling his sermoning - Water, then forget them.
Best let the roots put out their filaments - had placed

the crazed porcelain bowl below the dark stair-well.
By the time the X-ray came, their tips had
nippled through, with stems pushing to fullness
the next few months on the kitchen window-sill.
He was thrilled. But, the bruises puddling hungrily
o mulberry down his leg, hadn't had chance to see,
or smell, or touch the blossoms' waxy handsomeness.
Now back from the crem under angling sun
and the mist of sherry glasses - her family long gone,
Father Dykes sliding benignly away - she catches
minor-glimpses of herself finger-tracing their bell-shapes,
their deaths already settling in.
Suddenly shudders at palls of heady fragrances,
and, repelled by their Our-Lady-blueness gaping,
that bruising insolence of living,
confesses she cannot understand
why for the life of her
he so cherished them,
year on year
on year.

Blue Hyacinths is an anthology of selected poems from the Diversity House (Excel for Charity) Poetry Competition held in 2009.

Soon I was searching for places to tuck a pot among existing plants.

Altogether there were 33 bulbs, eight of which are Blue Delft and the rest mixed colors.

We're having unseasonably warm weather this week. I'm trying to decide whether to bring the potted tulips on out and let them commence growing tops. I hope they've grown roots in the past 9 weeks of chill. Left in longer chill, they should grow taller stems. They'll stand better with short stems. Sigh.

One last comment on forced hyacinths. Most of the literature says to toss them after they bloom. I always plant mine outside when the bloom fades. I cut off the faded florets, leaving the green stem and leaves. Place the bottom of the bulb as near 6 inches deep as is practical, taking care with the brittle roots. If they were in stones, the rocks will need gentle teasing away. They may skip the next year's bloom but the second year they should be rejuvenated and continue bloom.

Secrets of a Seedscatterer        


  1. What a lovely, poignant poem, Nell Jean. But we know why he loved them so, don't we? You will be surrounded by their beauty and scent soon, I hope. This year I planted some hyacinths in pots and set them in the cold garage, to be taken out in March. Of course they will be planted in the ground afterwards. We cannot waste something so precious.
    ps, thanks for the fruiting bodies!

  2. Wonderful mix of pots and bulbs. I've not potted up hyacinths. Good ideas from you.

  3. I have never potted hyacinths. Maybe one year I'll get around to doing that. You have so many - oh, they will be gorgeous!


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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