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


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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