General description: prepared hyacinths are so called because they have been "prepared" for early flowering. This is achieved by the simple expedient of chilling the bulbs during the summer at sub-zero temperatures for a week or so. This convinces the bulb that it has experienced a full winter, and it is then ready to produce a flower providing certain basic rules are followed.



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Where best to plant: Always in a pot or bowl. Plant an uneven number (1,3 5, 7 etc) to balance the effect they create. It is better to use a proprietary bulb fibre, since this should contain ingredients such a charcoal to prevent the soil from touring sour. One also needs a little weight in the pot to prevent it falling over when the bulbs are in full flower.

Planting hints: Do not mix colours in the bowls. Somehow each flower contrives to flower at a different time and the last ones hardly flower at all. Mixing will guarantee disappointment.
The bowl or pot should be at least 4 inches deep, and allow ½ inch space between each bulb. Plant each bulb so the tip is level with the rim of the bowl, and the surface of the soil is ½ inch below the rim.
The soil should be moist without being saturated. Pots or bowls with drainage holes are a safer bet than a closed bottom container. If closed do not over water. Firm the compost lightly.
The bulbs must now be cool and dark, ideally at a temperature of below 10° C. Place the bowl in a cool cellar, larder or garage, or alternatively bury them under about 4 inches deep in the garden under peat or sand.
From time to time check whether the soil has dried out, and if so water sparingly. If outside it might be prudent to put a slug pellet or two in the bowl.
It will take about ten weeks for the bulbs to develop a root system which will support the flower head. When the shoots are about 1½ inches high the bowl may be brought inside to a cool room. Do not stand the bowl by a radiator or near a window which receives full sunshine.
The shoots, which at this stage are white, will turn green, and continue to develop.
Once green the bowl may be brought onto the warmth. Avoid watering the flower itself, but continue to moisten the soil.

It is not unusual for the flowers to bend over after a week or so, particularly in warm rooms. At this point it is a good idea to cut the flowers just above the bulb, (but not the leaves), and place them in a vase, as the bottom picture shows. They can last for weeks, looking very nice, and giving out a lot of scent.

Variety information: It is our experience that blue, pink and white varieties produce bigger flowers, and generally better results. Don’t take this as gospel however!

Other useful facts: Once the flowers are finished remove the florets but let the leaves die back. Feed the bulb with a potash based fertilizer, and when the leaves are dead the bulbs may be stored for replanting in the garden. They cannot be used again as prepared bulbs.