When I lived in London Spring was, without a doubt, my favourite time of year. The air would change, you could literally smell the new season, and you would start to see flowering bulbs pushing through the grass (and know/hope that the days would get longer and your severe case of SAD might diminish). That real sense of seasonal change is something I miss a bit here in Hong Kong, where going from 60% humidity to 97% humidity pretty much only excites your sweat glands.
A couple of months ago Gemma (another ex-Londoner) and I were reminiscing about the glory of Springtime in a cold climate, and she told me it’s actually possible to grow Spring flowering blooms in Hong Kong. Prior to our little project I had no idea just how much of a science there is to growing bulbs at home, and was very interested as to how she did with with no garden and all but a few small pots. Full disclosure – it’s the cheat version of growing bulbs, but when she delivered them to our office – I wasn’t feeling picky!
For those brown thumbs out there (like me), flowering bulbs like these Hyacinths require a long period of chilling, usually around 11 – 14 weeks in the frozen ground, but because Hong Kong’s Winter are mild most of the time, Gemma bought pre-chilled bulbs at the flower markets. These had apparently been put in the fridge in a process called ‘forcing’, where they cool the bulb to simulate the Winter period and then warm – or plant if you live in a warm place like Hong Kong – to simulate Spring.
If you live in a cold climate and are organised enough, you can plant bulbs in the garden in Autumn and let the cooling period happen as nature intended, but we did it the easy (aka lazy) way!
- Bulbs (Gemma used pre-chilled hyacinth bulbs)
- Three small pots
1. Pre chilled bulbs should have roots sprouting as these things develop during the cooling period. Plant the bulb roots down in the soil with 2.5cm (1 in) of the sprouts sitting out of the soil.
2. Gemma then left hers in the warm kitchen until the leaves had fully grown, which took about 3 weeks. They should then look like the below once the (here’s some we prepared earlier):
How cute are the diptyque candles as pots?
3. Once she could see the bloom buds coming through, she put then in a sunny spot in her living room so the flowers would bloom. Apparently once the flowers come out it’s best to take them out of the sun so you get a while out of them. These hyacinths smell so good!