A timely reminder to plant your prepared bulbs
If you haven’t already done so, it is not too late to plant bulbs to provide a floral display indoors during the winter. Look for bulbs that are labelled as “prepared” when choosing for early indoor flowering, hyacinths and narcissus being the most popular.
Plant the bulbs in bulb fibre or a general-purpose compost in individual pots or grouped together in bowls. Leave the tips of the bulbs just above compost level and ensure they are spaced so that they are not touching each other. With hyacinth bulbs I find it best to group one variety when planting in bowls as different varieties sometimes grow at slightly differing rates and the bowl looks uneven when in flower.
Water your pots of bulbs and place them in a dark, cool place, I use a shelf in the shed and cover my pots with an old compost bag to shut out the light. Check them occasionally to make sure they are not drying out.
After a few weeks tiny shoots will start to appear and these should be left to develop until they are about 1” or so high. At this stage move the pots into a cool shady spot indoors, keep the pots moist and the leaves should start to form. When the flower buds start to appear move the pots into a bright cool spot where they can bloom and you will be able to enjoy the floral display and the perfume. Turning the pots occasionally will keep the plants growing evenly. You may need to support the plants with short canes as they grow, the flowering heads of hyacinths can be particularly top heavy.
After flowering, don’t discard your bulbs as they will provide blooms in the garden in subsequent years. To do this, remove the dead blooms from the bulbs but leave the leaves and flower stalk and continue to water and feed. After a while the foliage will die down naturally. At this stage stop watering and remove the bulbs from their pots and allow them to dry out. Store in a cool dry place and plant in the garden in the autumn. The bulbs will revert to their natural spring flowering period.