back to your roots

January 23, 2012  in flowers


A few years ago I bought a basic glass hyacinth bulb holder which I use every year, placing it on my mantlepiece. Since then I have collected a couple more and always love the way the roots grow in the water and the interesting patterns they form before the plant has flowered. The bulb simply sits in the neck of the water-filled vase, acting as a stopper so the water rarely needs topping up.


This year I bought a bag of bulbs at my local B&Q garden centre which contained many more bulbs than I had traditional vases for. I began thinking, what could I use as alternative vessels to sit the bulbs in? I love seeing the roots growing and it is important that the bulb rests on the water and not in it, so I scoured my cupboards and placed bulbs in the necks of milk bottles, on tea light candle holders, old jam jars and vintage glass and waited to see what would happen. I included one of my bulb root experiments in a shot for Heart Home magazine where I placed a bulb in the neck of a piece of chemistry equipment I had bought at my local car boot fair – a tall glass measuring cylinder where the numbers had long since rubbed off.


In these photos some of the bulbs had grown roots for a few weeks and others were freshly placed bulbs with no root growth at that time. I like clustering the vases together in a group for extra visual impact.


Most of the hyacinths bloomed, although I don’t really mind if they don’t as the visual patterns the roots create make me happy. My plants are usually a little stunted and not tall like the ones I would buy at the florists but I still think they are beautiful. I’m sure there is a way of making them grow taller but I haven’t discovered the technique yet.

After the first batch have flowered you can begin again, placing a new bulb in fresh water and plant the others in the garden for the following year. I have just started on my second batch and next year I might experiment with different flower types too and see what happens.


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  1. lovely idea, I will try it for sure.

  2. They really do look gorgeous!
    You have such a lovely blog and reading it it’s always inspiring. 🙂

  3. elisa says:

    the roots look so silky! lacy things. beauties. xx

  4. Marlous says:

    Hi Sania,
    Such gorgeous pictures, wow! I love the roughness of the bulbs and I love it when they stay tiny like yours. Mine always grew too fast and therefore fell over, leaving an enormous mess 😉 I learned that bulbs that are taken inside (where it’s warm) too early, they will grow much faster (and taller) but with the risk of ‘outgrowing’ themselves. The trick is to leave them on a cold place just before they’ll bloom and then take ’em inside. It’s a bit rocket scientry, but you could try it with your next batch. Good luck!

  5. ashlee says:

    i love this idea!! look fab! 🙂

  6. The bulbs look amazing in all the different glass shapes! Love it! xx

  7. allesistgut says:

    Wonderful pictures! And the hyacinths are amazing plants.
    Have a wonderful day! 😀

  8. Leanda says:

    I was just saving some old jam jars for this very purpose… I don’t think there is any better way to display hyacinth bulbs! Just beautiful!!

  9. Jo says:

    I usually end up buying some from my florist but this has encouraged me to have go and grow some myself! lovely. x

  10. Love the last picture. I actually prefer when they don’t grow that tall. Mine has overgrown and are all leaning to the left and the right at the moment. Hope you’ll post a picture when that milk bottle is filled with roots 🙂

  11. Marissa says:

    Thanks for the reminder to take my amaryllis bulbs out from under my bed! I can’t wait to try this technique, and love your blog – found via Decor8.

  12. decor8 Holly says:

    Hello Sania!

    This is so funny, when I looked at your blog today, because a few weeks ago I bought a hyacinth in a planter, with dirt and roots, and a stem (but no blooms) and brought it home. I place it on my window and thought of how I missed seeing the roots! So I carefully removed it and washed the roots with care, then place it in a bulb vase and now it has bloomed and I love seeing the root system floating gracefully in the water – it makes me happy. I guess we share another little thing in common. 🙂


  13. Sania Pell says:

    Thank you everybody.

    @Marious Thank you for the tips, I will give it a try and experiment next time. You are right as they can get too tall and then just fall over which is more frustrating. Better to have them a bit stubby I think 🙂

    @Marianne I will try and remember to take a photo of the milk bottle, the roots have reached the bottom and started swirling around already!

    @Holly How funny? That is a coincidence. I hope yours blooms beautifully too. x


  14. Lisa says:

    The glass containers do highlight the root patterns and add an interesting, modern look to the display. They are lovely grouped together. I have my hyacinths in pots right now but am getting inspired to plant some in jars. Thanks for sharing…

  15. […] blog post about growing hyacinths in bulb holders & bottles by Sania […]

  16. Angela says:

    I got my first hyacinth this year. It bloomed beautiful but was so tall that it kept falling over. I am hooked and want to do another, and another, and another.

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Sania Pell freelance interior stylist London.

Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.

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