Hyacynths - to repot or not to repot...

laynic(8)February 4, 2009

My son got me a hyacynth that is already blooming. There are three plants in a fairly small container. The blooms are already leaning (popsickle sticks are doing wonders), but everything looks healthy. Should I repot the blooming plants in a larger pot now? I have never worked with bulbs before, and do container/balcony gardening, so can't just go plant it outside. Any help would be great.

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I wouldn't recommend repotting now if that means you will pull the bulbs apart. You will likely finish the blooms off prematurely, though it probably wouldn't damage the bulbs. You actually could take these outside to your balcony. I grow hyacinths in pots on my front porch every winter and you're further south than I am. They'd probably like the additional sun. If you think they're in danger of freezing due to the small pot, just lift the whole soil clump out of the small container and ease it into one of your larger pots for the rest of the winter. Be sure to let the foliage ripen and turn brown before you cut it back. This allows the bulb time to make baby blooms that will appear next year. You'll need to save the bulbs and chill them in your fridge next fall for 8 to 10 weeks before re-planting. (This is why alot of hyacinth bulbs, and tulips, too, get thrown out and re-planted each year. Whether it's worth the trouble is your call.)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:50PM
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There's a lot of different areas included in a zone 8 and whether or not you'll need to prechill these bulbs before replanting next fall will depend on exactly where you are located. I have a pot of hyacinths pretty much exactly as you describe that have been sitting (in the exact same pot) since last spring, first in my carport and now on my back porch and they are beginning to sprout both foliage and the start of a flower bud. I meant to plant them out in the garden, but an injury this summer prevented me from doing as much gardening activity as I would have liked. Otherwise, Donna's advice is dead-on.

ps. Donna, some zone 8's are pretty far north :-)) I'm further north than Maine!!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 12:36PM
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Nell Jean

I can't speak to any zone 8 except my own, which is on the Georgia/Florida/Alabama line. I force hyacinths every year. Once chilled, forced and bloomed, I plant them in the ground when the blossoms fade.

Subsequent years, they continue to bloom planted in the ground, without chill except as provided by nature. The first year in the ground, blooms will be smaller, but in rich soil, they recover well.

Blooming now, in stones and water. Will be planted in the ground.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 5:28PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Whoops! I did it again, Gardengal! You are so right, and you're getting a winter alot more like Maine's than mine this year too!
Folks, please post your state for the old and absentminded among us. :)
Foxes, I am very interested in your post. What type of soil do you have? I left some hyacinths in the ground last year as an experiment and they didn't even come up this year. Mine is well amended clay.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 9:53PM
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Nell Jean

Sandy, very sandy loam. I garden on the Coastal Plain in a sandpile that used to be the bottom of the sea. My stones have seashell fossils. The garden has fifty years of cow manure added, oak leaves chopped, cotton trash, whatever I could add, but no clay, except 2 feet down. Everywhere I put hyacinths, I try to make sure they're not going to stand in water, ever.

Depending on the cultivar, yours may make it out of the ground, yet, Donna. Not all mine come up at the same time, and they're still coming up in places. Delft Blue is just starting to bloom; China Pink came up ahead of those. None of the Pink Pearl have bloomed yet, nor are all of them up. Blue Jacket is a late one, as is Gypsy Queen. The whites are late, the yellows are, too.

China Pink

Delft Blue


    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 3:33PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

(Imagine a very quiet voice here) I would pot on and I would NOT separate the bulbs at this point.

A pot an inch bigger all round and, if it's the usual shallow misery of a pot that they arrived in, one that's about two inches deeper. If the bulbs are visible I'd lightly cover them but leave the stems free.

If they've been inside and frost-free I'd probably start to harden them off by putting them out on fine days for morning sun, or rainy days, and into shelter for the night.

If I was going to take them out and dry-store over summer I'd be watching the pots. When the leaves die down I'd leave them for a week or two more. The roots often haven't finished even when the leaves have. When I took them out I'd put them in a mesh container and store them in a cool airy place with a permanent label in the container to remind me about what they are.

Then I'd put a date in the diary to replant in good time.

Otherwise I'd leave the pot in a cool place over summer where it wouldn't drought out. Excess dry tends to shrivel the bulbs. If you don't get summer rain and you do get high temperatures, maintaining a moderate in-pot temperature is important.

One way of doing this is to plunge the pot either into a plunge bed in the garden or into a cachepot arrangement (bigger pot with a packing of some sort of insulation material between the walls of the big pot and the outside of the smaller pot.) Pebbles can be useful and aren't as messy as polystyrene. Add them on the top to keep the weeds off, too.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 11:44PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

My hyacinths are just starting to grow. Our zone 8 out here has so much less sun and warmth than the zone 8 in the SE US.

I never repot store bought potted bulbs. I enjoy them and then plant them out. You can plant them out in containers if you don't have a yard. I have many bulbs in containers, some have been in the same one for years. Mostly because I'm too lazy to bust it all up and plant them.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 12:23PM
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