The Q&A Archives: Purchasing Hyacinth Bulbs

Question: I would like to force some hyacinth bulbs now for my mom who is in a nursing home. When I went to two nurseries in my area looking for information on how to proceed, I felt as tho I was speaking a foreign language. All I found out was that "bulbs are planted in the fall". Well, I know that, but I thought somehow, somewhere I could find bulbs now for forcing, since I had seen an article in a recent magazine about "bringing Spring into your home". This would be a nice cheery idea for the nursing home, but I can't get any help with it. Can YOU help me? There must be somewhere that I can purchase hyacinth bulbs. Help!!!

Answer: Unfortunately, bulbs really are sold primarily in the fall. The reason for this is that they are living things, are harvested and stored, and then need to be replanted within a reasonable period of time before their quality deteriorates and they are no longer able to grow. Once the year's harvest has been sold, they are no longer available. The bulbs blooming now were planted last fall and held in cool storage for the appropriate length of time required to allow rooting and then brought into controlled temperatures to allow the blooming process to begin. The time frame for forcing generally involves months of chilling.

As an alternative, you might look into some of the summer blooming bulbs coming onto the market now, or perhaps other plants such as tuberous begonias that can be grown in pots to enjoy indoors. I'm sorry I can't help with the hyacinths.

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