Plants

Hyacinths

Hyacinthus Orientalis-Hybriden

Ulrike Hanninger Ulrike Hanninger

If you want to enjoy fragrant hyacinths in the garden in spring, you will need to plant the bulb flowers in October. Here are some tips for planting and care.

Growth type
  • Onion
Growth height (from)
from 15 cm to 30 cm
Growth width (from)
from 0 cm to 0 cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
Flower color
  • purple
  • blue
  • yellow
  • red
  • pink
  • white
  • multicolored
Flowering time (month)
  • April to May
Flower shape
  • Bells
  • Cluster
Flower characteristics
  • strongly fragrant
  • unfilled
  • slightly filled
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • oblong
  • strap-shaped
  • narrow
  • pointed
Light
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • gravelly to sandy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to fresh
ph value
  • alkaline to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • low in nutrients to moderately nutritious
Humus
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Scented plant
Toxicity
  • toxic
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 6
areas of life
  • GR1
  • GR2
  • FR1
  • FR2
  • B1
  • B2
Use
  • Flowerbeds
  • Bouquets
  • Grave planting
  • Group planting
  • Interior greening
  • Planters
  • Underplanting
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • cottage garden
  • Flower garden
  • Prairie Garden
  • Stone Garden
  • Pot garden

Origin

Today’s garden hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis hybrids) are predominantly breeds that can be assigned to the botanical family of Liliaceae. The natural habitats of the wild species of Hyacinthus orientalis are rocky slopes and gravel flats in the Mediterranean region and the Orient. In Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon they grow at heights of up to 6562 feet.

Hyacinths have a long tradition as decorative plants: The fragrant spring bloomers were already very popular in the ancient world. Their namesake is Hyakinthos who, according to Greek mythology, could enchant both humans and gods with his beauty. Hyacinths had just this effect when they arrived by ship on the Dutch coast at the end

Hyacinths are available everywhere in trade shops today. Their color range has expanded thanks to many new breeds and includes traditional varieties in blue, purple, pink, and white as well as unusual color shades such as apricot, light yellow, golden yellow, and crimson. The enthusiasm for the highly colorful spring messengers with their beguiling fragrance has continued to this day.

Growth

Hyacinths can reach heights of 5.91 to 11.81 inches and form a vibrant central flower stem with a somewhat compact appearance above the leaf crown. As all bulb flowers, they have a short vegetation period. The leaf tips that cover the flower head are already visible in February and the vegetation cycle is already finished in July.

Leaves

Hyacinth leaves are basal and slightly fleshy. They cover the lower part of the flower shaft and have a vibrant, fresh green color. With a length of 7.87 to 11.81 inches, they can develop a certain intrinsic weight, just like their flowers, so that you need to make sure they have a secure base, particularly when cultivating indoors.

Flowers

The flower shafts grow simultaneously with the leaf rosette. It grows 7.87 to 11.81 inches tall and has the dense cluster of bell-shaped flowers at its end that makes the hyacinth so popular. It releases an intense, sweet and heavy fragrance and flowers from April to May. Thanks to their numerous hybrids, there are almost no limits in terms of the colors of hyacinth flowers: They are available in the most varied shades of white, pink, red, orange, blue, or purple. Multi-colored and double-flowering varieties are also available.

Location

Hyacinths prefer a sunny and warm location. They can be grow in garden beds or pots or boxes on the balcony and patio, provided they are somewhere sheltered.

Artistically planted flower bed with pink-colored and purple hyacinths

Artistically planted flower bed with pink-colored and purple hyacinths

Soil

A well drained and ventilated, mineral-rich soil is perfect for hyacinths. However, they also thrive in humus and nutrient-rich substrates, provided these are not too damp.

Planting

Hyacinth bulbs should be planted at a depth of around 3.94 inches. You should also ensure there is sufficient planting distance from neighboring plants, 5.91 inches is ideal. The best planting period is during the last two weeks of October or in November. When planting outdoors, more cost-effective bulbs are generally used with a perimeter of around 5.91 inches. These develop less heavy inflorescences and grow neatly upright. Add a sand layer at least 5.91 inches deep underneath the soil for drainage, particularly in heavy soils, to prevent waterlogging. You can mark where you have planted with a bamboo rod in the fall.

Care

Hyacinths need plenty of moisture and nutrients during their growth phase. After heavy rainfall, the already weighty flower clusters tend to fall over. A small supporting rod can help here. Deadheads should be removed before they form seeds. Regular watering during dry spells is important during the growth phase so that the bulb flowers can form sufficient nutrients.

Further cultivation is possible in two ways: You can simply leave hyacinths in a favorable location with permeable, summer-dry soil, such as in a rock garden, for several years. The planting area should be covered with brush wood or leaves during the winter, but do not forget to remove the winter cover again in good time in the spring so that the hyacinths can grow shoots early. Although they bloom again every year, the inflorescences become smaller and looser over time. These are not signs of aging, rather the natural growth shape of the species is making itself known. But you can combat this by - here is the second variant - removing the bulbs from the soil as soon as the foliage has dried up, cleaning off the soil and storing in a cool, dry, dark place until the next planting period.

By the way: Hyacinths are slightly poisonous and can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps if consumed. However, this is more relevant to animals and pets than people. Contact with the bulbs can occasionally result in allergic skin reactions.

White hyacinths with daffodils, violets, pansies, and tulips

Luxuriant spring splendor in a flower bed: Vibrant white hyacinths with daffodils, violets, pansies, and tulips

Where to plant

As the "Queen of Spring Flowers”, hyacinths can be readily combined with spring shrubs such as bergonia (Bergenia), candytuft (Iberis) and lungwort (Pulmonaria). They also do well in the company of other spring flowering planting partners such as forget-me-nots (Myosotis), Bellis, and pansies (Viola wittrockiana hybrids). In addition to sun-worshipping bushes such as forsythia, shadbush (Amelanchier) and Prunus can also highlight hyacinths beautifully. Although every plant is a feast for the eyes in its own right, hyacinths look particularly good in groups and adorn spring flower beds, edges, and plant containers. Simply arrange various hyacinths together to create an appealing color pattern.

Hyacinths play a particularly important role in forcing. The magnificent inflorescences can be brought out from bulbs even in the winter with very little effort - bringing a hint of spring into the house in time for Christmas. Use cold, pre-treated bulbs for this, known as forced hyacinth bulbs. These are placed in special forcing glass jars with a narrow neck to support the bulb. Hyacinths bulbs for indoor cultivation should have a circumference of about 7.09 inches.

Flower decoration with hyacinths

Hyacinths also make beautiful cut flowers that are often bound in fragrant spring bouquets

One more thing: You can use hyacinths as cut flowers for wonderfully scented spring bouquets.

Varieties

Hyacinth varieties are characterized by one thing in particular: Their color range. You can decide on the red variety ‘Amsterdam’, the apricot-colored ‘Gipsy Queen’ or the radiant yellow ‘Yellow Hammer’, depending on your personal taste. The blue ‘Blue Jacket’ or white ‘Carnegie’ are also very popular and wide-spread. Some varieties have such an intensive fragrance that a single hyacinth is enough to fill an entire room with fragrance. Such varieties include ‘Blue Star’ and ‘Delft Blue’, one of the best-known hyacinth varieties.

The so-called multiflora hyacinths are particularly distinctive: Around five to seven inflorescences grow from each bulb, so that the plant has the appearance of a tied, dense flower bouquet. Multiflora hyacinths flower very early and are best cultivated outside in pots and bowls.

Hyacinths are available in many varieties and colors

Variety diversity is color diversity: Hyacinths can be arranged in countless color combinations

Propagation

The over-ground plant parts of the bulb flowers die off after the flowering period. This also happens to the hyacinth leaves and flowers in the summer. After this “retraction”, small bulbils can be taken from the bulb. These can be replanted in the fall. After their initial, somewhat sparse flowering, the bulbs are taken out of the soil again each year and the new bulbils are removed. After you have replanted them in the fall, they flower even more abundantly in the spring until, after some time - around two to three years - they flower just as opulently as trade shop hyacinths. Nonetheless, you need to continue to remove the bubils annually so as not to drain too much energy from the bulb.

The cultivation conditions are also important for hyacinths to form bulbils - plenty of water and nutrients during the growth phase as well as aerated, summer dry soil is required in particular. Recommendation: Cut a deep cross in the base of the bulb before planting - this stimulates the formation of bulbils.

Propagation through seed sowing is also possible with wild species, although this breeding method is much more laborious. It takes at least three years until hyacinths propagated through seed sowing flower for the first time. So this method is really only relevant for plant breeding.

Diseases and Pests

Bulb flowers are particularly susceptible to diseases in the spring, after growing shoots. Inspect them regularly so you can remove infested examples immediately. One of the most frequently occurring fungal diseases is gray mold (Botrytis). The damage is visible as brown spots on the leaves and stem. This disease can generally be avoided with a good, and in particular well-aerated, drier location. However, voles, aphids, and snails are also big fans of the bulbs.

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