Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening 7: 228-229 (Sept. 20, 1864)

G. Abbey

For growing in water the single kinds, because earlier and of stronger constitution than the double, are the best; but the double kinds have been and are satisfactorily grown in water. In choosing bulbs for placing in glasses let the main point be heaviness of bulb, and look well to the base of the bulb to make sure that it is sound; those showing signs of few or no offsets are to be preferred. October is the best month to place Hyacinths in water, which should be rain or pond water. The best glasses are those which are the most opaque; those known as Tye's are to be preferred, and triple glasses look better than single ones. Fill the glasses with water, and place the bulb therein so that the base of the bulb just touches the water, or, if anything, does not quite do so. Place the glasses in a dark cool place with a temperature of 40° or 45° for from four to six weeks, until the roots have grown to the extent of 4 inches; then gradually inure to light, and fill up the glasses with water, which must be soft as before and well aired prior to using. The most suitable position is a cool room, as near the glass of the window as possible. It is not necessary to change the water: it may be kept pure by placing a few small pieces of charcoal in it, and the glass should be kept filled up as the plant takes the water up. If it become offensive, however, it should be changed. Sponging the leaves with rain water occasionally will free them of dust and contribute to their vigour. Fresh air, also, if it can be given without creating a draught, is of great value in securing stiff foliage; and light gives the colour to the flowers. Warm rooms are apt to draw the foliage and spike. Changes of temperature, as from a hot to a cold room or the reverse, are bad; and not less so is taking them from light to darkness or the contrary. After the roots are a few inches long the water may be lowered to half an inch from 'the base of the bulbs, as these occasionally decay when kept constantly wet. An airy situation is best, and if it be sunny all the better. The glass should be turned frequently, so that the foliage may not draw towards the light and become lop-sided, but be evenly balanced. Be very careful not to disturb the roots, and not to hurry in placing a support to the plant, only using one when it becomes necessary. If these hints be acted upon Hyacinths will bloom well in water, but they will not be as fine as those grown in pots. I was formerly of opinion that if a little liquid manure were added every morning to the water the bloom would be all the finer. I tried it, pouring every morning about six drops into each glass, and I thought the blooms were better than those which had none; but I very much question whether the liquid manure was really the cause. Perhaps some one will try it and communicate the result.

Hyacinths, with a variety of other early-flowering bulbs, are also grown in baskets, &c, in sand, moss, and a variety of other substances. The best material that I have found is cocoa-nut dust; it is light, holds a quantity of water, and when mixed with an equal portion of charcoal, reduced to the same degree of fineness as coarse-grained gunpowder, it answers very well. If a basket or bowl is to be used we first place a layer of rough charcoal at the bottom, and then fill to the rim within the size of the bulbs with cocoa-nut dust and charcoal, in equal parts, thoroughly incorporated, on this place the bulbs, and lastly cover them so that only the apex of the bulb is left above the surface. The material should be kept constantly moist; and after planting, the basket, or whatever it may be, should be placed in a dry, cool, dark place for a month, and then be fully exposed to the air and light, so that a vigorous growth may be encouraged. If desired, the surface may be covered with Selaginella denticulata by planting it between the Hyacinths.

If Hyacinths are planted in moss or sand lay about half an inch of charcoal at the bottom of the vessel, on which place the moss, pressing it firmly down; and on this plant the bulbs, allowing the same distance between each as the bulbs are in diameter. Cover these with moss, except the apex, give a good watering, and keep in a dark place for a month; then remove to a light, cool, airy window, and surface the vessel with green moss, which will give a cheerful appearance to the whole. Water overhead two or three times a-week through a fine rose, with well-aired soft water, to clear the leaves of dust and refresh both top and root. This watering should be discontinued after the plants come into bloom, when they should be watered at the root only. In other respects the treatment of Hyacinths in glasses filled with water, or planted in moss or sand, differs but little from that of bulbs grown in pots.