What Bulbs Can I Force in a Vase?

“Other than hyacinths, which bulbs can I force in a hyacinth vase?” Question from Robin of Warner, New Hampshire

Answer: There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing bulbs to force in hyacinth vases. Only certain bulbs can be easily forced, in water, gravel, or soil, during the winter months. And, most require a chilling period before they are forced or sold for forcing–the paperwhite ‘Ziva’ is an exception. The easiest and most common bulbs for winter forcing, aside from hyacinths, include amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp., see video below), paperwhites and some daffodils (Narcissus spp.), crocus (Crocus spp.), grape hyacinths (Muscari spp.), netted irises (Iris reticulata) and some early tulips. But, not all are well-suited for vase forcing.

Bulbs must be of a certain size to be supported by a water-filled hyacinth vase.  Hyacinth bulbs are large, and the plants don’t become too leggy if grown in direct or bright, filtered sunlight. So they are well-supported by the water-filled vases. Large crocus bulbs/corms can also be grown in hyacinth vases. There are also long-necked bulb vases that can accommodate taller bulbs, like amaryllis. Most other bulbs I would grow in vases with gravel at the base or in pots filled with growing medium, such as Black Gold All-Purpose Potting Mix, and topped with decorative sphagnum peat moss.

I hope that this information helps!

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

Amaryllis After Care

PS Amaryllis
If you have any gorgeous, red amaryllis left over from the holidays, treat it well and it will reward you with blooms again next year. After the current flower fades, cut the stem off at the base but leave any newly forming leaves to remain. The foliage carries on photosynthesis to store energy in the bulb before it goes dormant.

Move the potted bulb to new sunny location and keep it adequately watered until the leaves die back naturally. Then remove the bulb from its pot, clip off all residual roots and leaves, then store it in your refrigerator. Replant in new pots next fall with Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil.