Now is the time to plant hyacinths if festive season display is desired

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The festive season is far from anyone’s thoughts in September but if hyacinths in a bowl for an indoor display are desired, then they have to be bought and potted now.

They need a couple of months of slow, even growth to produce a show by the end of December. The bulbs termed ‘prepared’ should be planted now. They have been specially treated to be fooled into thinking winter has past and are ready to produce hundreds of white roots, followed by a perfumed flower head which makes winter so much easier to tolerate.

There is quite a colour range – shades of red, yellow, white and blue, but a word of warning – don’t mix colours in the same bowl or they may flower at different times.

Plant three or five depending on the size of the bowl or pot using bulb fibre. They will then need a prolonged period of cold and darkness for roots and stems to develop. Only plant the bulbs halfway into the fibre, leaving the noses well clear, and then water only enough to dampen the fibre.

Storage can be in a larger tub or box filled with moist compost or soil, covering the bowl to a depth of three to four inches and enclose or cover in black polythene to exclude light and retain moisture. Store in a garage or shed or somewhere outside that rain will not saturate the fibre. A cool, dark cupboard is also ideal.

Glass or plastic bowls for individual bulbs are also available. These have a cup-shaped top where the bulb sits and a constricted neck to allow the dense mat of roots to grow into water in the bottom part, yet keeping the bulb itself above water level. A few pieces of charcoal placed in the water will keep it sweet for the growing period. Forcing narcissus bulbs for indoor decoration should be treated the same way in bowls of fibre, planted with their noses well clear and kept cool and in the dark.

By mid-November, when the bulbs will have probably produced roots and emerging growth, they can be brought indoors into a light, cool room. When the flower buds can be seen, move the bowl to a warmer position and keep the fibre moist, but not saturated. If the growth is weak and drawn then the pot has been given warmth too early.