The Q&A Archives: Poor Bloom on Forced Hyacinth

Question: I tried to force hyacinths this winter. I planted them in pots of potting soil, then kept them for 2-1/2 months in a room with temperatures around 50 to 60 F, with very diffuse light. They started pushing leaves and flowers so I took them to better lit and warmer (75 to 80 F) room. Within a week they were blooming, but the flower stalks were weak, the leaves wide and "wimpy" and the blooms had ony about 50% of the flowers that I had expected (based on the performance of outside plantings).

Why were the blooms so poor? I purchased hearty bulbs last fall. I didn't use fertilizer. They were sparingly watered the first 2 months and heavily watered the last 2 weeks.

Answer: Forcing bulbs can be tricky and sometimes it takes some trial and error to make the process work. In this case I think the chilling temperature was a little too high; normally a temperature closer to 40 degrees is recommended for two to three months. Then the growth period might have also been a bit too warm, since the preferred temperature range for that stage is only about 60 to 65 degrees. The cooler temperature will also help the blooms last longer. Finally, some varieties simply are more amenable to forcing than others.

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