During the Victorian Era, people discovered and revered the hyacinth for its beauty, easy upkeep, and, perhaps most importantly, sweet fragrances. Since then, this flower has become a spring favorite. Not only do the hyacinth bulbs stand out with their unusual shape and wide array of colors, but they also look just as beautiful indoors as they do outside. This classic flower is versatile and hardy, thriving in zones 4 through 9 and performing best when planted in a sunny or partially shaded area. Plant hyacinth bulbs in the fall, and welcome spring with these irresistibly beautiful and fragrant harbingers of warm weather.
How to plant hyacinth bulbs:
Hyacinth bulbs are one of the easiest bulbs to plant: despite their unique appearance, hyacinths are incredibly standard-issue bulbs! Their bulbs look a bit like onions, with roots growing out of the bottom and a spike growing from the top.
The most difficult part of planting hyacinths is choosing the perfect planting location. Hyacinth bulbs prefer well-drained soil and plenty of sun, so choose a sunny bed or naturalized patch in your garden. Hyacinths also make lovely container flowers. Because these bright, colorful spikes can reach up to 12" tall, they easily stand out above shorter bulbs. Many gardeners prefer to plant hyacinth bulbs among the bulbs of shorter flowers, like dwarf tulips or aconite. These jewel-toned flowers are also a favorite in borders and along walkways. Consider, too, the time that hyacinths bloom--just slightly later in the season than daffodils, crocus, or other early-blooming bulbs. Hyacinths are a great way to draw the eye from the fading foliage of other bulb flowers and brighten up the garden in mid spring.
Before planting your bulbs, plan your spacing. Most hyacinth varieties require at least three inches between the plants, as they do grow in a somewhat outward-reaching habit. However, check your individual packaging, as the recommended spacing varies by variety.
As with other bulbs, hyacinth bulbs require planting at around two to three times their height. So, if you have a two-inch-tall bulb, make sure it has at least four to six inches of soil covering. For each bulb, dig a hole of the appropriate depth, place the bulb with the roots facing down and the spike facing up, and re-cover your hyacinth. Then, water the bulbs well to help them settle in.
When to plant hyacinth bulbs:
Hyacinth bulbs, like other springtime blooming bulbs, perform best when planted in the fall. Bulbs use the mild fall months to grow root systems and gain nutrients for support through the cold winter, the spring growing season, and summer dormancy. Wait to plant your hyacinth bulbs until the ground has cooled and the evenings are no longer warm: this will help to avoid them sprouting before spring rolls around. Hyacinths cannot be planted in the spring, because they require that period of cold to spark their growth and ensure that they bloom correctly.
How to care for hyacinth bulbs:
Hyacinth bulbs require an amazingly low level of care after they're planted. Hyacinths require little water over the winter months. Springtime rain will likely take care of your hyacinth's watering needs, but you can water them weekly in spring during dry periods. As your plants begin to grow in the spring, a water-soluble fertilizer with balanced levels of nitrogen, potash, and phosphate, such as a 10-10-10 fertilizer, is a good idea. Fertilizing will help to increase the size and beauty of a hyacinth's flowers.
After your hyacinth bulbs have grown foliage, flowered, and died back, they will settle in for a summer rest period. Watering the bulbs is not necessary during the summer months. Your hyacinths' leaves will die back a few weeks after the flowers do. Wait until the leaves die back before cutting back any foliage: they need that period of photosynthesis after flowering to produce and store energy.
When do hyacinths bloom?
Hyacinths bloom in early to mid spring, just slightly later than daffodils. Once your hyacinth bulbs have begun to grow, it will only take them around three weeks to bloom. And, if you want that spicy-sweet hyacinth scent indoors, the bulbs can be forced in pots in under ten weeks!