Growing hyacinths in a water glass have a long tradition. With colorful hyacinth glasses, you can put the bulbs on the windowsill and bring spring-like blossoms into your house in winter. Hyacinths only take a few weeks from inconspicuous onions to beautiful blooms. We show you how it works!
Even in winter, you can conjure up a colorful, fragrant splendor of flowers with hyacinth bulbs. Hyacinths that are placed on a water glass or special hyacinth glass develop roots within six to eight weeks and open their beautiful flowers shortly afterward. Basically every bulb flower – from the tulip to the crocus to the daffodil – can be floated on the water. The hyacinth naturally conjures up a special work of art with strong roots from its pronounced wreath-shaped root base, which, depending on the shape of the glass, spread straight or twisted in a spiral.
Hyacinth drifting has a long tradition
The driving or pulling of hyacinths on the water was already practiced in the 18th century. At that time the hyacinth was considered a fashion flower and in addition to onion forcing – similar to the tulip mania in the 17th century – speculative transactions were carried out with the hyacinth bulbs, which were very popular well into the 19th century.
Hyacinths are particularly colorful bulbous plants. The growth itself becomes an exciting spectacle
With industrialization and urbanization around 1900, Berlin, the center of the then hyacinth cultivation, shrank and the tradition of onion forces began to decline. In addition, more and more flowering potted plants became available throughout the year, which made water forcing obsolete for many flower lovers. Nonetheless, driving hyacinths is an exciting activity that plant lovers should not miss out on in winter. The fact that you can watch the process day in and day out is spectacular – from the root growth to the shoot and the unfolding of the flowers. The trained eye can recognize the later flower color from the color of the onion skins.
Not only what grows out of the onion is beautiful, but the roots of the hyacinths can also be beautifully showcased
Instructions for forcing hyacinth bulbs
For forcing hyacinths, it is best to use the best-prepared onions. Due to a temperature treatment lasting several weeks, these bulbs can flower earlier than untreated bulbs. The best time to start forcing is in the weeks before Christmas, because after that there are usually no more onions available in stores. Basically, you should expect about six to eight weeks from planting the onion to flowering. To stir, the onions are placed on glasses filled with boiled water.
Very important: the bottom of the onion must never come into direct contact with the water, otherwise there is a risk that the onion will rot. There are special hyacinth jars for powering the onions: at the bottom, they are relatively bulbous, while at the top they narrow and form a small bowl on which the onions are placed. You can buy these glasses, which are available in all colors, from specialist gardeners. With a little luck, you can also find hyacinth glasses at the flea market, as they are very popular with collectors.
Tip: If you don’t have hyacinth glasses, you can make onion holders out of wire or short twigs. You can then place these on jam or other jars and put the onions on them. Alternatively, you can simply fill glasses or bowls with glass marbles or pebbles and pour on boiled water so that the top marbles or stones protrude about half a centimeter from the water.
First bring the prepared glasses with the hyacinth bulbs to a cool, dark place – for example in the cellar. A temperature of five to nine degrees Celsius should prevail here. Let the jars stand there until there is strong rooting. It is advisable not to place the glass directly on a stone or concrete floor, but on a wooden board or a piece of cardboard so that the coldness of the surface does not transfer.
In combination with colorful hyacinth glasses, the window sill becomes a colorful spectacle
Bringing hyacinths to light
Only when the vessels are completely rooted, the hyacinths are allowed to light. However, leave the hyacinth jars in a cool place until short green shoots have formed. To begin with, protect the hyacinths against sunshine with small hats that you can either buy or make yourself. Gradually, the plants get used to air and light so that they grow compactly. The cones can be removed when the hyacinth shoots lift them. Then the further development can be observed – from the small, green shoot to the appearance of the fragrant flowers.
The small cardboard hats prevent sunlight from reaching the shoots. If the shoots lift the cap, you can remove it
Occasional topping up of the evaporated water is essential. As a rule, however, this is only necessary when the shoots rise upwards. The unfolded flower will last longer if you keep the containers a little cooler overnight. After flowering, the hyacinths can be relocated to the garden. Please do not remove the leaves. You can also grow the hyacinths in flower pots that you fill with normal potting soil. In principle, this variant does not differ from the glasses filled with water, except that you then cannot observe the spectacle of the root growth.