Poinsettias and amaryllis are traditional darlings of the Christmas season in the U.S. In Europe, hyacinths top the list of favorite plants to give as gifts, especially in Scandinavia.

While it may be more difficult to find these fragrant flowers in bloom this time of year, you can pick up some pre-chilled bulbs and a pretty pot or hyacinth jar, then plant them up. Pre-chilled bulbs will bloom in nine or 10 weeks.

Among the easiest hyacinths to force: "Delft Blue," "Blue Star," "Blue Jacket," blue; "Pink Pearl," "Anna Marie," "Lady Darby," pink: "Jan Box," reddish pink; "White Pearl," "L'Innocence," "Carnegie," white; "Anna Liza," violet; "Amethyst," lilac purple; "Yellow Queen," "City of Haarlem," yellow.

Here’s how to do it:

 Select a clean, decorative container. Plant bulb in potting soil, pointy end up. If you're planting multiples, nestle bulbs close together. A 6-inch pot should hold three bulbs. Fill in with potting soil around the bulbs. Water thoroughly.

 Label the pot with variety name and projected date for removing the pot from cold storage. When giving as a gift, include these instructions: Place pot in a cool, dark place between 40 and 48 F. Water regularly and take care not to expose the bulb to light. (Don't store with fruit or the gas produced by ripening can cause the flower to bloom before it is fully developed.) When time's up, place the pot in indirect sunlight at about 60 F. Blooming should begin in three or four weeks.\

 You don't need soil to force hyacinths into bloom. Old-fashioned, hourglass-shaped hyacinth vases or any glass container that can support the bulb are perfect for the project. The bulb should sit above, but not touch, the water. Add more water as needed. Place the jar in a dark place where the temperature is about 40 F. When the root system forms, move it to a warm location in indirect light. It will bloom in about 6 weeks.