Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hyacinth Bucket


Have you ever watched Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced “bouquet”) on the PBS show “Keeping up Appearances”?  It is funny in so many ways. 

For those familiar with the flower hyacinth, it’s the basis of a spring love affair.  The flowers will bloom even with a late spring, they are tough enough to withstand a snow, all the right colors to think candy Easter eggs and the fragrance is divine.

Several years ago I saw this particularly lovely odd shaped little vase at a thrift store.  It was cheap and it is now mine.  Over the years I’ve seen similar ones and now know and love my hyacinth vases.

The odd shape is basically a rather slender tube shaped bottom with a half round bulb shaped top.  Not always but mostly and they come in a variety of colors and materials. 

I decided to investigate my little finds on the net and I found just how to use them.  Buy hyacinth bulbs in the fall.  In November, add water to the vases up to about a half an inch from the top.  Place the bulb on the top part (it holds it from touching the water) and put in a dark cool (40-50 degrees) spot until January.  Avoid freezing temperatures.  The best way is an unheated basement with a paper bag over each one.

About January, the bulbs should have started to sprout and some may have started sending down roots into the water.  Remove the bags, bring to the kitchen and change the water.  Clean any vases that have mold or other film attached.  Throw away any bulb that isn’t firm.  Fill with water as before; replace the bulb, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bulb.  Set in indirect sunlight and wait for the wonders of nature to take you into spring.

There are also crocus vases shaped similar but the cup is smaller.  Almost any spring flowering bulb can be forced to bloom this way.  Some may need to be kept in the refrigerator a month prior to starting the process. Experts disagree on this step so take your pick.

Another method for those who want force bulbs but don’t want to start a new collection of vases is to simply put florist marbles in a clear glass vase.  Nestle the bulb half way into the beads.  Add water but do not allow the bulb to sit in the water.  Follow the same process as above.

 And should you want to get crazy over a new collection:  Hyacinth vases, sometimes called hyacinth glasses, are a big deal in England and big deal means they can be pretty expensive.  Some are from famous glass manufacturers, glass blown, pottery, various shapes all with titles, books written and pictures taken.  A particularly lovely English book on the vases was a grand total of $78.    

I was particularly taken with a cobalt blue collection.  The blue is difficult to find and apparently the favorite of collectors.  The good thing about collecting these little gems, not many folks really go to the effort to force bulbs.  It’s one of those things people often want to do someday but never quite get it done.  Most of us are busy with the holidays about the time bulb forcing takes attention.

Hoping mine will be as pretty as these.
Some catalogs will send inexpensive hyacinth vases with your bulb order.  If you’d like to see my little collection, check out my blog.  It’s pretty unremarkable by collectors’ standards but pretty sweet with those blooming hyacinths. 


  1. You have such intereseting posts.
    I'm enjoying my wandering through your blog.
    I grow Amaryllis the same way now, without soil and into a conatiner shaped like the hyacinth vase.
    Only it is simply a 2 Lieter Evian bottle which I cut in half. I could take a picture of it if you like to see it.

  2. This is even better than thrift shop finds! Gardeners are the most clever people. Yes, would love a photo. Thanks!