Botanical name: Hyacinthus
Plant type: Flower
Soil type: Loamy
Bloom time: Spring
Hyacinth bulbs are planted in the fall and borne in spring. The Victorians revered hyacinths for their sweet, lingering fragrance, and carefully massed them in low beds, planting in rows of one color each.
The loose to dense racemes of strongly fragrant flowers are closely packed with tubular-bell-shaped, single or double flowers. As well as growing in the ground, colorful hyacinths are excellent for forcing in containers and some are available for early flowering indoors.
- Outdoors, plant bulbs 4 inches deep, a minimum of 3 inches apart, in autumn.
- At the northern limits of their hardiness, plant 6 to 8 inches deep.
- Grow in any well-drained, moderately fertile soil in sun or partial shade.
- Loosen soil, mix in compost, and set the bulb in the hole with the pointy end up.
- After planting and covering with soil, water thoroughly.
- Bulbs may be forced into early growth for indoor display in winter. Plant them with the tips just showing, in soil-based potting mix in containers with drainage holes.
- Keep in a dark place at temperatures above freezing but no higher than 45 degrees F, for at least 10 weeks to allow roots to develop.
- When shoots are about 1 inch long, increase light and temperature gradually.
- Water carefully, avoiding wetting the shoots or waterlogging the soil.
- After flowering, forced hyacinths may be planted in the garden and they will flower again in subsequent years.
- Water hyacinths in the event of a dry autumn.
- Protect container-grown plants from excessive winter moisture.
- After plants are finished flowering in spring, cut back flower stalks but allow the leaves to die back naturally.
- Prone to gray mold and bulb rot.
- A few of the old varieties from the 1800s are still available. Try 'Distinction'—its spicy-fragrant, dark-maroon blossoms are a showstopper.
- Or, plant the rich-purple 'King of the Blues or the smoky-rose 'Lord Balfour.'
A snow-covered hyacinth is a harbinger of spring!
Credit: Kathea Secrist