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Easy-to-Grow Potted Hyacinths

Brighten winter interiors with these lovely, fragrant spring flowers. Paula Sutton shares how in an excerpt from her book, HILL HOUSE LIVING
Paula Sutton’s light-filled, cozy living room at Hill House features pale green walls, a gilt-framed painting of tulips above a roaring fireplace, and a rolled-arm, tufted white sofa. On the large square coffee table, a blue-and-white dish holds blooming hyacinth bulbs. Covered with a faded vintage quilt with wide red and white stripes, the coffee table also holds books, a chess board, and a glass dome filled with pinecones. The mantel is decorated for the holiday season with greenery, grapes, apples, and dried orange slices. In the corner is a petite but full Christmas tree decorated with red bows and dried orange slices.
Potted hyacinths add to the Christmas cheer at Hill House, blogger and author Paula Sutton’s charming home in the English countryside.

Hyacinths are equally as easy to grow indoors and their sweet, heady scent will fill your home with the most beautiful fragrance, making them not only something lovely to look at, but also a natural air freshener! Look for specially prepared bulbs which have been pre-chilled into thinking that winter has already passed. Florists, garden centres and even supermarkets will sell them as soon as autumn is over. Plant the bulbs in vintage containers or specially shaped hyacinth jars, which have an hourglass shape—the pinched-in waist supports the bulb just above the water which sits in the bottom part of the jar. Like paperwhites, they can grow in any planting medium, whether standard potting soil, wet gravel or even water on its own.

How to Grow Potted Hyacinths

  • Pour water up to the waist of the jar. Position the bulb so that its base sits just a fraction above the water below. In this way, the bulb has access to moisture without any risk of it rotting. The water will need to be topped up on occasion to stay at this level.
  • Pop the jar into a cold, dark place—a refrigerator, cupboard, cellar or even an unheated garage is ideal, and keep it there until roots appear and establish. This usually takes about three weeks, at which point the jar can be moved into a bright, airy room to encourage the flowers to develop.
  • Arrange the bulbs in shallow bowls or dishes filled with gravel, pebbles or anything else that holds the bulbs upright. Plant them close together so that they sit side by side without touching. Fill the bowl with water to the base of the bulbs then finish off with a decorative dressing of moss for a rustic look.

Reprinted with permission from Hill House Living by Paula Sutton. Copyright ©2021. Photographs by Simon Brown. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Book cover: Hill House Living by Paula Sutton
Paula Sutton, creator of Hill House Vintage, poses on a sofa at home, wearing pearls and a 1950s retro-style full-skirted gray dress and pearls
Paula Sutton. Photo by Tamsyn Morgans

About the Author: Paula Sutton is a stylist, writer, and creator of the popular blog and Instagram, Hill House Vintage. A born and bred south Londoner, she trained as a town and country planner and worked at ELLE as bookings editor and Elite models as head of press. Over a decade ago, Paula and her family moved from the hustle and bustle of London to a small village in Norfolk to embrace the joy and quiet of country life. Hill House Living is her first book.

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