Last updated on December 2nd, 2011
OKAY, it was probably crazy of me to accept such generosity, but when Calendar’s Nursery in Chatham, NY, offered me their unsold hyacinths yesterday, I couldn’t refuse. (Why look a gift-bulb in the mouth?) In order to save on space, I decided to double-pot the bulbs. Double-potting, which I learned from Thalassa Cruso (my childhood hero in the 1970s), is an old-fashioned procedure that produces an extra-lavish display of bloom:
Double-potting begins with a deep container, say, an “azalea” pot or standard-size one, 6-8 inches in diameter. Crock this as usual, and then fill in with soil about 1/3 of the way up. At this level place 4 hyacinth bulbs. Between each bulb, insert bamboo sticks which are tall enough to rise above the rim of the pot. Cover the bulbs with soil.
Next, plant more hyacinths (I managed 5 for the upper level), using the stakes as guides to avoid setting the bulbs over the tips of those below. Finish off by covering the “upstairs” bulbs with soil. As always, make sure to leave a one inch opening between the soil surface and the pot rim for the receipt of water.
Finally, label the pot. Then set it some place dark and cold. Because my spare refrigerator is already filled with potted bulbs and also hyacinths in bulb vases (all these arranged back in October), my latest project is destined for the bulk-head of my cellar. There through winter the space stays between 35-45 degrees. Like most other Dutch bulbs, hyacinths require 12 weeks of cold storage.
Hyacinths planted in two tiers will root and grow successfully around each other. True, the lower bulbs will take a little longer to reach the surface — they have more distance to travel — but once above ground they should catch up to the top level of bulbs, and open their fragrant buds at the same time. I look forward to showing you pictures of these in bloom.
And here’s a thought: If you want a real bargain on hardy bulbs, go shopping for them now, in December. Unless your garden center is run by idiots (and some are), any remaining inventory of bulbs should be deeply discounted.
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