A Complete Guide to Forcing Hyacinths Indoors

Winter can be a hard time for gardeners. The cold weather forces many plants to go dormant, and the lack of sunlight means that some vegetables don’t grow as well.


However, there is an upside – winter flowers! Winter flowers are not only beautiful, but they can also help create a nice aroma in your home or office during this time of year. One of my winter favourites is hyacinths, which you can force indoors by either planting them in pots or growing them on water.


But what is forcing?  By providing plants with favourable conditions for development, forcing bulbs is tricking bulbs into blooming out of season. For hyacinths, it is getting them to bloom indoors in early winter instead of outdoors in mid-spring.


Although it can sound daunting, forcing bulbs is actually really easy to do! Just follow the easy steps below and you can also enjoy beautiful and wonderful smelling flowers throughout the winter season.

Selecting the Right Hyacinth Bulbs

An important part of forcing is choosing the correct bulbs. When you are in the garden centre selecting your bulbs, you will see that there are 2 types of hyacinths: prepared and regular.  Prepared Hyacinth bulbs have been dug in early in mid-June and have had a specific temperature treatment to advance the flower formation in the bulb. The bulbs still require a cool and dark period for approximately 10-12 weeks at 9°C.  After this time there should be a 2-3” sprout and can be moved into a room temperature area and blooms will appear in 2-3 weeks.  Bulbs planted by September 30th will be in bloom by Christmas! These prepared bulbs are the ones to look for when you are forcing hyacinths as it will reduce the time to enjoy sweet blooms.

Forcing Hyacinths in Pots


One of the easiest ways to force hyacinths is in pots. You first need to choose a pot that is at least six inches deep, so it can accommodate the roots of your hyacinth. Fill the bottom with some stones which will aid in drainage for your bulbs. Next fill the pot about halfway up with fresh potting soil and plant three hyacinths per pot, leaving just their noses, or pointy tips, above the surface (about 1 cm or ½ inch). Finally water them well and check that the soil is draining properly from the container.


Once the planting is done it is time to fake their winter.  At this point, you want to keep them in a cool room (9°C or 48°F) with good air circulation (we find that a garage or basement is the perfect area). Give them a little check each week to make sure the soil is moist and not soggy.


If you started with prepared hyacinth bulbs, after about 10-12 weeks you should be able to see some sprouting on the bulbs. If you started with regular hyacinth bulbs, then it will be 12-14 weeks. When the green sprouts are about 2.5 cm (1”) out of the bulb, it’s time to bring the bulbs out into your favourite sunny room to enjoy. Don’t forget to continue watering them as you don’t want the soil to dry out!


And finally, it’s time to enjoy! There are so many beautiful varieties but some of my favorites are Delft Blue and L’Innocence. Both give a wonderful aroma and have striking color to their blooms. A new variety this year is Purple Sensation. A vibrant violet color with nice smell, they will definitely be in our pots to force this year!

Forcing Hyacinths with Water

Another option is to force hyacinths on water. You can use special forcing vases with an hourglass shape that cup the bulb by separating it from the lower part.  Start by filling the lower portion of the forcing vase with water and then set the bulb in the top half of the hourglass. Place the rooting side down just above the water, keeping the base of the bulb dry. Only a few millimeters away, the water and moisture below the bulb is enough to get the roots to grow down into the water in the vase.


Set your hyacinth on glass in a cool and dark place, with temperatures of 9°C (48°F) and good air circulation for about 8-13 weeks. Again, basements and garages often provide these ideal conditions. Check on the bulb and vase once a week to ensure the water level is where it should be, just below the bulb, and that roots are developing. When necessary, add a little more water to the vase. Replace cloudy water by tipping out the liquid, and then refill the vase with fresh water at room temperature.

When a growth tip has appeared and is about 2.5 cm (1”) tall, bring your hyacinth on glass to a window which receives bright, indirect light. Place the vase on the windowsill and a stem will start growing towards the light. To keep the stem straight you can turn the vase occasionally. Watching and waiting for the flower buds to appear is the best part, and after 2-3 weeks, a beautiful stem of flowers will begin to bloom.


If you don’t have a water vase specifically for forcing, you can still force hyacinths with water. Instead of using a forcing vase, you can take any clear jar, fill the bottom with 5cm (2”) of clean pebbles, and then fill the bottom with water. Put the bulbs into the jar. Remember to make sure the water doesn’t touch the bulbs. Then follow the same steps for cooling and enjoy!


Once the flowers have finished blooming, you can remove the flowering stem and allow the foliage to continue to grow.  Once the foliage turns yellow you can plant them outside in your garden to grow with your other hyacinths, where they will bloom again at the regular time in spring.


If you are looking to force bulbs on water, kits with prepared hyacinth bulbs on vases are available at your local garden centre, and when it comes to spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment gifting, having a kit within reach lets the mood be joyful and light.

Pro Tip: Avoid putting your hyacinths near apples or other ripening fruit and vegetables. Produce releases ethylene gas which is harmless to us, but this gas sterilizes bulbs and stops them from flowering.

The smell of hyacinths is one that brings back memories for many people. When the flowers are in bloom, their sweet scent can be found all around your garden and home. Forcing them during winter months means you’ll have a constant reminder of spring no matter what time it is outside.


If you want to know more about how easy it is to force these beautiful flowers yourself or where you can buy prepared bulbs and kits, contact us today! We’re happy to answer any questions you might have about this delightful way to bring brightness to the dreary winter months. Let us know how your forcing project is going by tagging Florissa on Instagram or Facebook at @florissagarden.


Happy Forcing!

The Team at Florissa

To find a garden centre nearest to you, please visit find a retailer.


  • reem Bedwany
    November 1, 2021

    What is the zone for Hyacinths? I live in Zone 6, Ontario. Canada, can I plant it in the garden?

  • Florissa
    November 3, 2021

    Hello Reem,
    Thank you for your inquiry. Hyacinths are hardy to zone 4, so in your zone 6 area they are winter hardy.

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