During the last century it was especially fashionable in winter for flower lovers to force hyacinth bulbs in special glass containers that were manufactured for this purpose. The original glass vessels were made in jewel colors, blue, red and green, but more modern ones are made of clear glass.
The container is nipped in near the top to form a cup that holds the hyacinth bulb above the water which is placed in the lower section of the vase. Since the vase narrows immediately above the top of the water level, the bulb is prevented from sitting in the water which would cause it to rot. However, roots that arise from the basal plate of the bulb, can grow down to reach the water.
Growing A Hyacinth in Glass
- To encourage roots, it is best to place the bulb sitting in the water glass in a dark cool spot. For example, put it in a basement or the back of the lower shelf of a refrigerator, until the roots fill the bottom of the container.
- More water should be added if the water level goes down.
- Once the lower part of the container is full of roots, place the glass in a cool sunny window or under grow-lights.
- Rotate the container regularly to prevent the plant from leaning towards the light as it grows. When you are selecting bulbs for this purpose choose medium sized bulbs suitable for forcing. Large bulbs are likely to produce flower heads that are too heavy to stand erect in a vase.
Look for hyacinth glasses next time you are in antique stores and garden centers.
For more information on forcing spring bulbs of all kinds see: Thalassa Cruso, Making Things Grow: a practical guide to indoor gardening.