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What are Hyacinths?

The Hyacinth is a member of the large and lovely Lily family. (Consider its tubular florets and intense fragrance and you'll understand the connection.) Hyacinths thrive in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Throughout most of the U.S., they will return year after year, adding beauty and fragrance to garden beds and indoor bouquets. Dutch bulb growers have cultivated Hyacinths since the 17th century. By 1838, these brilliantly coloured spring gems had become so popular that more than 2,000 varieties were available! The uniform, upright shape of the flower spikes and jewel-tone colours made hyacinths a favourite for formal Victorian gardens. Now 21st century gardeners are rediscovering this classic flowering bulb, which complements gardens of all sizes and styles. For a bold, dramatic effect in your spring landscape, fill an entire bed with a single hyacinth variety, or plant masses of hyacinths to form a large, gently curving swath of colour. For even more visual excitement, plant a single variety of tulip of a contrasting colour along both sides of the hyacinths—choose a tulip that will bloom simultaneously with your hyacinths.


Where to grow Hyacinths Plants?

For a more informal look, mix hyacinths of various colours with tulips, daffodils, pansies, primroses and other spring-blooming flowers. Be sure to plant a few groups along a walkway, where you can enjoy their fragrance each time you pass. Hyacinths are also one of the easiest bulbs to grow in pots.

You can easily force your hyacinths indoors. You will need a hyacinth bulb vase—a special glass vase with a pinched neck and bulb-sized "cup" at the top. Most garden centers carry several shapes and colors.

How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

•  Place the hyacinth bulb in the top of the vase. Fill the vase with water to just below the bulb (add a piece of charcoal to help prevent algae growth). Place the vase in a cool, dark place for two months. Check the water level weekly to make sure it is just under the base of the hyacinth bulb.

•  After eight to ten weeks, place the vase in a dimly lit place. By now you should see roots extending into the water and a shoot growing upwards. If the roots have not developed well enough, put the hyacinth bulb back in the dark for a few weeks more.

•  Over the next three weeks, slowly bring the vase into a warmer, brighter position, but no more than 65 degrees. Too much heat at this stage can result in a rush into flowering before the stem has developed enough height.

•   Four to six weeks after bringing the vase out of the dark, your hyacinth flower will be in full bloom! Keep it in a bright spot with diffused light. Full sun will cause it to age quickly. After flowering, transplant into your garden.

When to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

Hyacinth bulbs are mid-spring bloomers, and, like other springtime bulbs, they are best planted in the fall. Bulbs use the mild fall months to grow root systems and soak up nutrients before settling into dormancy for the cold winter. These bulbs actually need a cold period to begin blooming in spring. During the spring, their leaves photosynthesize energy for the year ahead. Plant your hyacinth bulbs after the ground has cooled but before it's frozen solid. This will give your bulbs time to settle in before the winter.
If you want to "force" your bulbs, or start them indoors in pots, refrigerate your hyacinth bulbs for about nine weeks before planting them. Then, keep their pots in a sunny location.

What are Common Hyacinth Pests and Diseases?

Squirrels and other rodents are known to snack on foliage and bulbs when hyacinths are kept outside. To deter rodents, keep your hyacinth bulbs near less-appealing plants, such as perennials and daffodils. You can also try commercially-available animal repellant to keep pests from carrying away your bulbs.

Like other bulbs, hyacinths can be susceptible to rot. Yellow rot is evident when the leaves of the hyacinth plants turn yellow and water-logged. Bulb mites, fungus, and soft rot are also common among hyacinth plants. To avoid any of these issues, make sure to plant your bulbs in well-draining soil, and amend your soil with loam to keep it draining well.

For aphids and mites, try a garden pest spray to keep your plants from becoming infested. If you do see mites or other bugs, knock them off with a strong blast from a hose or mister.

What are Popular Hyacinth Varieties?

Hyacinth bulbs tend to be known for their deep, vibrant colours, as well as their perfumed fragrance. Hyacinths bloom in both single and double forms, and most grow to a height of a foot or under, although height certainly varies by cultivar. Here are a few of our very favorite hyacinth varieties:

  • Eros Hyacinth is one of the very best bi-colored hyacinths, with red florets tinged in white, which might remind you of peppermint candy. It's a nice, compact hyacinth cultivar, too.
  • Royal Navy Double Hyacinth is a shining example of double hyacinth in a striking navy blue. This is a true-blue flower and an award winner to boot.
  • City of Haarlem Hyacinth is a classic, known for its bright yellow color. Yellow hyacinths are tough to find, and this one is sure to please.
  • Blue Jacket Fragrant Giant Hyacinth is another blue, this one with a more classic form. One of our best-selling blues year after year, Blue Jacket is among the most fragrant hyacinths.

No matter which variety you choose, you'll be sure to have bold and beautiful flowers with just a bit of work. Hyacinths are the perfect flower for welcoming late spring and all its associated festivities.

How Often Do Hyacinths Bloom?

Hyacinths, like most plants grown from bulbs, bloom just once. Hyacinths bloom in late spring, generally later than most daffodils and other early bloomers. However, that single bloom time lasts for up to four weeks, so you'll get a lot of mileage from that one bloom. Hyacinths typically have a lifespan of about five years, coming back each season.

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