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Need Hyacinth Bulb Experts to Chime In, Please

Posted by LatinLady 6 (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 27, 13 at 16:14

Hello,

I live in an apartment in New York (zone 6). This past April, I received a beautiful 10" pot of big 8" stems of blue Hyacinth bulbs (cultivar unknown) in full bloom. After a week of enjoying the fragrant flowers, I noticed that gnats were apparently hatching from the soil. I immediately placed the plant outside on my rear fire escape, where it continued to flower.

After the flowers dried out, I cut them off and eventually cut off the leaves around June. I left the pot on the fire escape all summer and just forgot about the plant, leaving it to the elements. My thoughts were that the bulbs needed sunlight to build energy, but regular watering would just rot them since they were not in an active growth stage. (Yes, I applied a little succulent know-how to the mix! - Did I do OK?)

Over the past month, we've enjoyed 68-76 degree daytime weather, with overnight temps dipping into the mid 50s. I just took a look at the bulbs because I thought to do something with them over the winter. Well, to my surprise, they are sprouting - There is a 1/2" 3-stem new green growth at the top of each bulb! Forgive me for sounding so excited, but I really can't wrap my head around bulbs and they have always been a mystery to me - I'm a succulent person :-)

The obvious question - What now? I'm inclined to believe that they are going to bloom again in time for Thanksgiving. Is this a stretch? I'm thinking I should leave them where they are until temps drop to 40 degrees (but not below). At that time, I can bring them in and place them in a sunny window and water lightly to see what happens??? Alternately, I have a relatively cold stairwell with a sunny skylight (leading to the roof) where I can leave them until spring. If that's the case, what about water? HELP! What do I do?

Your advice is very much appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need Hyacinth Bulb Experts to Chime In, Please

They've started to grow but until they get at least 8 weeks of cold temperatures (a quick google check says under 48F) they won't bloom properly. Do you have a spot for that? I've heard of people using a fridge but that's a long time unless you have a spare somewhere!
They will not bloom for thanksgiving, they'll grow some but then sit and wait until "winter" seems to have passed. They need the cold spell.


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RE: Need Hyacinth Bulb Experts to Chime In, Please

Thank you so much for responding.

I have dug them up - They are only 10 bulbs. I washed off the soil and set them out to dry. Tomorrow, I will put them in a brown paper bag filled with moss, and refrigerate them in one of my small bottom crispers Oct - Dec. I've read that the refrigerator may be too cold for them so I will wrap the bag of bulbs in a small towel for additional insulation and keep the refrigerator at its lowest possible setting, since we're going into the winter season.

What do you think?

After December, it'll be freezing outside, with possibility of frost until March. ;-( I take that as my cue to ship the bulbs off to warmer climates where these babies will flourish another season. I will gift them to my mother in December. By Spring they will be again in bloom and bring a little joy to her world. Maybe, after seeing their beauty and enjoying their fragrance, she'll be prompted to go through the cold storage process for another season or two. All is not lost after all! :-)

Thanks for your input - It really did help guide me through the thought process. Much appreciated.


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RE: Need Hyacinth Bulb Experts to Chime In, Please

If storing bulbs in the frig, you need to keep them away from other produce, especially fruit. That emits ethylene gas which prevents bulbs from blooming.

There is no reason you cannot replant these bulbs now. The fact that they have started to produce foliage is most likely a sign they were not planted very deeply.....often the case with potted bulbs. If you repot in a larger, deeper container they can sit out on your balcony through the winter, thereby receiving their required chill period, and bloom as intended in spring. I would just keep them as close to the building as possible, primarily to avoid too much water during the winter months but also to benefit from the reflected heat of the structure, which will keep the container and soil from freezing solid.

Don't worry about the cold - the bulbs can take it :-)) In fact, they need it.


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RE: Need Hyacinth Bulb Experts to Chime In, Please

If your hyacinths do bloom again, and it's possible they won't if you cut the foliage off too early, don't expect the big fat flowers they had last spring. In their second year hyacinth bulbs which have been forced for early indoor flowering usually produce smaller looser blooms. But still pretty and fragrant. Some might produce only foliage if they received no supplementary feeding in the pot after blooming. As gardengal48 says, there is no need to dig up the bulbs. Since they are already sprouting they will have begun to root and digging them will disturb them.


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RE: Need Hyacinth Bulb Experts to Chime In, Please

As you've already taken the bulbs out of the pot you could separate them into larger and smaller bulbs - and acquire another pot for the smaller ones. About five to the 10" pot, max.

You'll need to set the larger bulbs so they have six inches of potting soil over them and at least four below for their roots.

The smaller ones should be fine with a four inch cover.

Do not use bulb fibre. That's fine for indoor use but for bulbs outdoors you need something very like your favourite succulent mix - and the same sort of pot drainage (superb). You could mix through some slow release with a good potash (K) content, or some bone dust if the mix you use is fertiliser-free.

So long as the pots are frost-proof and don't freeze for days on end, the bulbs will be fine even if the mix freezes solid overnight then thaws during the day.

No guarantees, but planting fairly deep helps them to produce tall and sturdy stems. When the bulbs are forced for the bulb-in-a-pot market (which is about the same as bunches and bouquets) then the bulbs are all planted close to the top and close together to make a pretty bunch. It's different if you are growing them as a garden/balcony display, because you'd like them to come back again for another year instead of simply discarding them.

Apart from the slow release feed in the mix, don't feed while they're flowering and do feed with something like tomato food once the flowers have finished so the bulb can make its new bud before it goes into summer dormancy.

Good luck. They're worth the effort simply for that delicious scent.


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