Hail to the Hyacinth!
Ways to Display

The Hyacinth:

(def) An upright flowery blob with bell shaped petal type thingees.  Ability to stink up a whole room in a single mound.  Lovely.


Spring smells like 2 things to me.  Hyacinths and water logged worms.  So far this year I’ve only smelled the Hyacinths because there isn’t a worm to be found.  As usual, Spring isn’t actually coming to Ontario this year.   We’re gonna hang onto some weird seasonal morph of winter, spring and fall until August, at which point the weather Gods will finally hear our prayers and bestow us with 2 weeks so hot and humid our innards will liquify and spill out of every pore in our body.

We Ontarians don’t smell very good in August. Plus our hair if fuzzy.


This little lady, however does.  The Hyacinth shows up every “Spring” in grocery stores and garden centres across Canada.    Of course the easiest thing to do with it is leave it as is.  If you’re especially ambitious and have the time you might stick this plastic pot into another more attractive plastic pot.  Or even a ceramic one.

And that’s perfectly acceptable.

Or you could throw caution to the wind and try something completely different.  Because you are a rebel.  You are a risk taker who thinks nothing of going against the grain.  Of whipping out your gardening gloves and tossing them aside.  You are a hands in the dirt, lemme at it, take no prisoners kind of hyacinth arranger.  You.  Have gumption.

All those with gumption, please proceed with the rest of this post.  Those without, you can end your reading right here, go back to your plastic pots wrapped in foil and I’ll see you for tomorrow’s post.




Remove the foil.  And then the pot.

Stick the plant in a (gasp) see through vase.

Either a short one …

Or a tall one …

Or a bulbous shaped one.  Perfect for bulbs obviously.  And those with gumption.

When you’re using a clear vase you have to be really careful about watering.  Just a tiny bit of water since there’s no drainage holes to get rid of the excess.  Plus a lot of murky, gross water at the bottom of the vase is icky to look at.

Looking at dirt not your thing?  Not a problem.  Rinse the dirt off. This will leave you with plain old bulbs and roots which are pretty, pretty.

If you do this be really careful.  The roots snap off like the split ends on a bad bleach job.

You can now drop your Hyacinths and bulbs into a bulb vase. A bulb vase is basically any vase that’s shaped like these vases below.  The bulb gets trapped in the neck of the vase. You don’t want the base of the bulb sitting in water.  You only want the water to barely touch the base of the bulb.  To kiss it.  Not a deep, french, sexy type kiss.  Just a peck.


Don’t have any bulb vases?  Again, not a problem.  Stick them in any vase you can find where the bulb can either sit on top of, or wedge into the top of the vase.  Make sure the flower isn’t too tippy.  ‘Cause it’ll tip over.  Hence my use of the term tippy.

Roots creep you out?  Add a few rocks to the bottom of a vase and set the bulb on top, hiding some of the roots among the rocks.

White rocks are my preference for this method.  Again … go easy on the water.  Just barely enough to touch the bottom of the bulb.

Have a birds nest handy?  Stick a small bowl into the nest, add a tiny bit of water then stick your Hyacinths into the bowl.  If you can still see the bowl, camouflage it with some moss or twigs.

If you get the urge to use your Hyacinths as cut flowers, leave them on the bulb.  They’re actually sold this way and are referred to as “on the bulb”.  Cut away the lower 2/3rds of the bulb.  I didn’t cut away that much on mine.  Because I am a Forest Gumption filled rebel. Whose bangs happen to be driving her nuts today.  (tried to part my hair on the other side … WOW, who knew it’d ruin my whole day?)

See?  How lovely is that?  Just stuck on a slice of wood.

Of course they’ll die in a few hours but still … lovely.

Oh!  You want them to actually live more than a few hours.  O.K.  Well, in that case put them in a small tray.  This is some sort of candle tray I had stashed away somewhere.  Just fill it with a small amount of water and place the hyacinths in it.  You have to be careful about checking the water daily because it’s such a small amount it’ll evaporate/get sucked up pretty quickly.  No.  It does not have to be a rectangular plate.  Round, oval, square even shamrock shaped will do.  Anything that’ll hold a bit of water.

To take it to the next level, add a few mounds of moss to the dish.




Now.  Fly.  Be free.  Go forth and try something different with  your Hyacinths.  ‘Cause it’s way easier than trying something different with your hair.


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  1. Erin says:

    My plants are staring back at me from my island. What do you do after the flower is finished ??? The flowers from the bulb/vase combo’s that I bought at Dollarama are long over and I have clipped the flower but have the leaves and have kept up the watering. Should I keep it alive like this or should I clip the leaves and remove it from the vase and let the bulb dry up for next season?

  2. Nen says:

    A much appreciated gift. Any easy advise to stop beautiful scented hyacinth stalks from naturally ‘bending over?!’

  3. Kathie says:

    Thank you, Karen, for your speedy reply!! I’ll get right on it!! I LOVE hyacinths (along with most other flowers) & hate to destroy or neglect something so lovely!!! I’m so happy I found this website-it’s so helpful & informative!!! I’ll let you know how it all turns out!! Kathie.

  4. Kathie says:

    My hyacinths have bloomed in the bulb vase. And I don’t know what to do with bulbs & the roofts because it is the dead of winter here in N.J. Please tell me what to do with the bulbs & roots until I can plant them in the spring!!!!

    • Karen says:

      HI Kathie – You know what? I’ve done this several times and can’t remember for the life of me how I did it. If I were to do it now I’d let the bulb flower, cut the flower off when it’s done and then put the bulb in soil and put it in a cool place. An unheated garage … mudroom … that sort of thing. Then as soon as you can dig the soil outside I’d plant it. It probably won’t flower for you this spring but will next spring. ~ karen!

  5. Nicci says:

    Ok can we be friends?,and I don’t mean that in a creepy stalkerish way really
    You have a great sense of humor and I really enjoyed your writing
    Your Ontario spring/summer sounds a little bit too much like our BC one but we slog around in rain boots and tell ourselves we live in the greatest province in Canada until the sun comes out and we ask why the temperature isn’t more moderate as we live so close to the ocean

  6. stéphanie says:

    Year #2 that I come check out this post to remind myself of what to do with these bad boys. Why do they come out in November over here in Sweden??? Wierd. Same thing last year when I was in Italy. Oh, Euros. Too cool for us Canadians, obviously. PS: Over here, if they’re from Norway they’re crap, but if they’re from Denmark they’re quality. Rumor is.

  7. Luke Hoy says:

    Every shot was just as gorgeous as the last. Love the smell of these guys. :) If you get a change check out my last post “The plant room” I think you’ll like it!

    No Hyacinths in that room but there’s still time!

    :) Keep up the good work!

  8. Erin Hall says:

    I know what I am going out to get tomorrow…..

    Question. Is your moss real live moss or real dead moss (like dried or whatever it is you get at the craft store) and where do you get it from?


    • Karen says:

      Hi Erin – All my moss is real moss. It’s stuff I’ve gathered from the cottage over the years. I’m not sure what the one long one is called, but the smaller, evenly formed ones are button moss. You should be able to scrounge enough from outside at this time of year. Button Moss pulls up like a sheet from the rocks and tree trunks it grows on. ~ karen!

  9. Melissa says:

    Do the “rootful” arrangements require sunlight, or will they just be like cut flowers and survive in my sun deprived home? I have always sadly walked by the potted hyacinths because nothing potted lasts in my house come spring due to a large tree which shuts out the sun for six months – are you giving me hope that I can enjoy them anyway? (please say you are!)

    • Karen says:

      Melissa – I can only speak from experience, but I’ve had fairly good luck with them in my relatively dim house. If you’re worried about it just get a single stem and give it a shot! ~ karen

  10. Karen O. says:

    Now I’m going to have to go buy hyacinths… and cylindrical glass containers… my wallet does not thank you, but my eyes will. ;)

  11. Mindy says:

    Stumbled across your blog this weekend. The dollar store posts kept my attention. Now: “She had me at hyacinth.” I have a few in my garden that are blooming now from the grocery store ones jumping into my cart over the years for table arrangements. You have convinced me I need more. Hyacinth, say hello to my Easter dinner table. And my mantle. And my kitchen counter. And the back of the toilet. Yes, I must spread their joy throughout the house now. It would be sinful not to. Love your writing – laughing out loud while looking at beautiful photos is an awesome way to drink my first cup of coffee. Thank you.

  12. mick says:

    I can’t have live plants in the house because my cat demolishes them.
    So I’ve set the photo of the ‘hyacinth in the small clear vase’ as my background. It looks awesome!

  13. blake says:


    I just cut bangs for the first time since highschool and I’m now girl who wears headbands…because I wanted bangs a la Pretenders…not short pin up girl bangs a la 1945…now they drive me nuts and all I do is mess with them.

    • Karen says:

      Blake – Uch. My heart goes out to you. Don’t worry though … you’ll be Chrissie length any time! ~ karen

  14. Fifthroom Living says:

    This post brightened my Monday morning significantly! I love the clear vases with the roots swimming in water. How clever! Hyacinths are such a common supermarket flower, and yet I love them like a rare orchid. Thank you for sharing unique and interesting ways to display them!

    Fifthroom Living

  15. alice says:

    If you could tell me how to descent a hyacinth, I’d be running to do this, too.

  16. I am afraid I am going to have to disobey your commandment to go get a hyacinth as my husband is allergic and complains bitterly whenever one crosses my doorstep and then puts it in the garage. Maybe I should consider putting the husband in the garage instead . . . something to think about today.

  17. Traci says:

    So pretty!! I like how the one on the end in the last picture is waving at us! *Waving back* Hi Hyacinth!

  18. marilyn says:

    hey karen beautiful hyacinths…hyacintheses..hyacinthee? anyway they are beautiful and i think spring smells like dirt. but i am married to a farm boy and he loves the smell of dirt.great post thanks xo

  19. sue says:

    Hmmm, just woke up, reading you before coffee and I wonder if this post might also be called, how to torture a hyacinth. I was with you until you cut the roots off…guess I am either too old fashioned or too much of a gardener to go that far. Are you mad at Mother Nature for making you wait so long for Spring? She might get really, really mad at you for this last idea. Just sayin’

    • Karen says:

      Hey Sue- :) Cutting the bottom of the bulb off is actually the healthiest, *best* thing to do for the hyacinth in terms of having it as a cut flower. It’s unusual to see, but it’s actually the healthiest thing to do for the flower. I swear. I’m not sure why more people don’t know about this method for cut hyacinths, but it’s true. Strange, but true. ;) ~karen

      • sue says:

        Many cups of coffee later and just reading your comment…it does make sense to keep the bulb on as a cut flower. My dad always said, you learn something new every day if you’re not careful. Upon reflection, I realize that I rarely cut flowers, I like to keep them outside for the bees, I love bees, especially bumblebees on lamb’s ears. They just adore those tiny flowers. Have you ever petted a honey bee? They will let you, in the evening, but they will raise a leg when they want you to stop.

        And now, to complete the journey, I’m off to bed, but a better person for having learned something. My brain is full, so off to bed I go.
        Keep pushing the envelope of creativity!

        • Karen says:

          Sue – LOL! I think you’re just trying to get a honey bee to sting me! You know I’m exactly the sort of person who would try to do this! ~ karen

        • sue says:

          back again, no coffee yet, are we starting a pattern? I misspoke, it is a bumblebee (the furry, fat ones) and no, they won’t sting you, unless you start to make them part of some project you are working on. I just saw your peep wreath, so I wouldn’t put it past you to think of a way with hot glue, fishing line and a noodle.
          I think lazy people like me like to read about what the high energy people are up to…too funny!

  20. Pam'a says:

    Beautifully done yet again, Karen! I’m with you– Hyacinths are *the* smell of spring. In fact, I’ve already blown through two of them.

    I’m jealous of yours with three bulbs in one pot. The ones here are stingier. I’m lucky to find two. But who cares? They’re practically a food group in early spring!

  21. Jeanette Schnell says:

    This was your BEST post for me in a long time. I loved the variety of options, vases and outside the box thinking. The pics are outstanding and really add to the blog because Hyacinths are so, so beautiful!! Bravo!

    Thank you,

  22. Ciara says:

    about how long do the ones with roots on stones last?

    i might try to dig some up from the garden tomorrow and bring them indoors.

    thanks!! they look beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Ciara – It depends on how open the Hyacinth is. If they aren’t fully open you can count on a week unless you have a dud. Sometimes they wilt over from the shock of it all. If they’re already in full bloom they should still last at least 4 days. Also, if you’re setting them on rocks you can also cut the bottom half or so of the bulb off and lay them in the rocks/water like that. It’s actually the preferred method if you don’t care about seeing the roots. Lemme know how it goes! ~ karen

  23. Maura says:

    I scoffed when you said our homework was to get a hyacinth.


    I need a hyacinth.

  24. carol says:

    lovely! and i am a GLUTTON for hyacinths, as they tell me that i have almost survived the winter!

    what *i* do – and of course i do not have a photo, so you will have to imagine or try it yourself – is to take them from their pot and gently tease them to a looser distance from each other (and in the process lose some of their soil). then i plant them into a low oblong bowl or even a platter – anything with a bit of a lip on it. i allow the outer two to drape towards the lip of the bowl and then the center one to do whatever it wants. i press them into place with a little more dirt and cover the dirt with small creek pebbles. as they continue to open and bloom, their stems reach out to the sides and are very sensuous and sculptural. and then, when they are blown, i pick all my rocks off them and stick them in the ground in some corner of the garden. and many of them have returned to bloom in later springs!

    • Karen says:

      Carol ~ I don’t believe you. You’ll have to send a picture. ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Carol – Just joking. I’m feeling kindda frisky tonight. Sounds beautiful! I love messy, natural looking arrangements. ~ karen

      • carol says:

        no worries. i wouldn’t believe me either.

        for better or worse, here in kentucky, we are past hyacinth season, as they are now getting ready to bloom outdoors. however, i will keep my eye open for an abandoned indoor one that i can force to do my indoor hyacinth bidding!

  25. lori says:

    great!!!! love it!!!
    but have a couple of questions…
    1)do they start to root after you cut the bottom off??
    2)will the piece that you cut off grow if given the chance??
    3) Hyacinths?? hummm might have to go and get me some
    thanks for the post!!

    • Karen says:

      Lori – 1) No. Not unless you leave them in the water so long the water becomes a wretched bowl of stink. And even them probably not.
      2) No. Not unless it’s a magic bulb. So, no.
      3) Run like the wind.

      ~ karen

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