Daffodils and Hyacinths
Plenty of colour can be created in a cool greenhouse from Christmas until spring with(narcissi) and hyacinths. Narcissi must be chosen carefully to obtain the earliest , good ones being Paper White and Grand Soleil d’Or. The graceful Roman hyacinths should not be forgotten as they flower earlier than the large-flowered hyacinths.
Pre-cooled bulbs can be obtained which flower earlier than they would normally. Varieties of narcissus for Christmas flowering include Carlton, Cragford and Peeping Tom, the last a lovely cyclamineus hybrid. Treated hyacinths can also be obtained.
Bulbs should be potted in September or October as soon as they can be obtained. If they are being grown in pots use John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost as a growing medium. The bulbs should be placed close together and be so positioned that when potting is completed their tips are just above the surface of the compost. It is not wise to have hyacinths of mixed colours together in the same container as they are likely to come into flower at different times. Bulbs may also be grown in bowls of bulb fibre but it is important to soak the fibre thoroughly with water before it is used. Do not pot too firmly or the roots may push the bulbs out of the compost.
An interesting way to grow daffodils is in a double layer. For this a bowl 8 or 9 in. deep and with a diameter of 7 or 8 in. is needed. Place a layer of fibre in the bottom, put the bulbs on this and cover with fibre, leaving just their noses showing. Firm the fibre lightly, then place a second layer of bulbs between the noses of the bulbs in the lower layer. More fibre is added and worked around the bulbs. In this way I have obtained up to 45 blooms from one bowl.
The pots and bowls must be stood in a cool place for 8 to 10 weeks after potting so that the bulbs can make good root systems. I find it best to stand the pots outside in a sheltered place and, after giving them a thorough watering, cover them with a layer of sand or weathered cinders.
When the bulbs have made plenty of roots move them into a cold frame to gradually become acclimatised to warmer conditions and allow the shoots to turn green. Then, when the flower buds appear, take the bulbs at intervals into the greenhouse or a warm room. At first a temperature of 7°C. (45°F.) is adequate, and the bulbs should only be subjected to higher temperatures gradually. Treated bulbs need slightly different temperatures but instructions are given with bulbs obtained from good bulb merchants.
Keep the compost uniformly moist and if bulb fibre is used take care it does not dry out. Do not allow water to collect inside the leaves of hyacinths or the buds may rot.
It is wise to stake the heavy flowers of modern hyacinths, either with hooked pieces of wire or with canes and raffia ties. It is also advisable to support narcissi with raffia looped round their canes to enclose the foliage.