Hyacinths are wonderful plants that bloom with clusters of bright flowers at the start of spring. They are a sign of all the wonderful things to come in your garden throughout the spring and summer, making them popular in many gardens.
Originating in the Mediterranean region and Africa, it’s easy to think that Hyacinths would struggle to cope in our cold British climate – but this is actually not the case! Although they are never going to be a massive fan of our icy winters, they are more than happy to be planted in your garden to enjoy the spring and summer months – and so you can enjoy them in return!
This article aims to provide you with all the information you could need to enjoy your own Hyacinth plant.
Features of Hyacinths
- Flowers – Compacted groups of bright flowers that usually have petals that form pretty starfish shapes.
- Size – Hyacinth plants tend to grow between 15 and 30cm tall. They are relatively compact, small plants that will not take up much room in your garden. However, for the full effect, plant more than one bulb to create a wave of beautiful hyacinth colour in your garden.
- Colour – Hyacinths come in a variety of colours including white, peach, pink, salmon, yellow, orange, red, lavender, purple and blue.
- Flowering season – Hyacinths will usually flower between March and April but can be slightly later if it is a particularly cold spring.
Types of Hyacinths
There actually aren’t many different types of Hyacinths in comparison to many other plants – with only around 30 kinds to choose from. They are broken down into three main categories; single, double and multiflora hyacinths.
- Single hyacinths – One large head which stems from a single bulb, producing widely opening flowers up the individual stem.
- Double Hyacinths – Two stems form from these bulbs which have small, brightly coloured flowers that grow up the stem.
- Multiflora Hyacinths – Definitely the best option if you want to get your monies worth! These bulbs will produce a number of stems that tend to hold individual flowers. They are much more closely linked to wild Hyacinths, with a more natural look.
How to Grow and Care for Hyacinths
Hyacinths are easy to grow and relatively low maintenance, however, for the perfect flowering Hyacinth, each and every year, follow this advice and you can’t go wrong!
Hyacinth bulbs are usually sold during late summer into autumn so that you can get them ready for flowering in the spring. However, if the thought of this fills you with dread (it’s never easy waiting for 6 months to see if you have planted your bulb successfully!) then you can purchase ready to flower or just flowered hyacinths in spring from your local garden centre.
Bulbs should be planted in early autumn, whether this is in pots or in the ground in your garden. Hyacinths will happily grow in pots and in your garden, so it is up to your what look you are going for with your garden. However, it is worth considering that Hyacinth plants will not cope particularly well with very cold weather, so a potted hyacinth will leave you with the option of bringing it inside if the great British weather strikes again after they have started to flower!
Hyacinths will always grow better in well-drained soil and appreciate more fertile ground. It is better to plant your hyacinth somewhere that they will receive full sunlight if you want them to flower as best as possible – they can cope with more shaded areas but not if you are wanting them to flower year on year.
Your hyacinth will need regular watering during the time that it is growing and flowering, but this can be reduced considerably as the plant starts to die off. Hyacinths won’t cope too well in particularly wet conditions so make sure to check that the soil is dry before watering.
Planting Your Bulbs
Actually planting the bulbs is relatively easy. Simply push the bulb around 10cm deep into the ground and around 8cm apart. Then water them and wait to see the fantastic result next spring. If hoping to grow your hyacinths in the same place each year then we would recommend re-fertilising the ground at the end of each flowering season to give them the best chance of growth the following year.
History of the Hyacinth
The Hyacinth actually has a long history dating back over 4000 years, which is where the name originally came from! After this, the popular plant was involved in an Ancient Greek legend, where the flower grew from the blood of a slain god – Hyakinthos! Hyacinths have been grown from Europe to the Middle East, Greece to the Netherlands – being mentioned in history books dating back to the 16th Century. In fact, the Ancient Greeks and Romans commented on the sweet smell that the flower releases in the spring! More recently, the plant has been cultivated in the Netherlands to produce perfumes – as well as being an attractive flower for the garden.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many people would just throw their hyacinths away once they have finished flowering. If you are one of these people then stop! Hyacinths can be enjoyed year and year again! Simply cut back the entire plant to the bulb and the roots once the leaves are dead and leave in a cold, completely dark place until spring.
Dramatic, red hyacinths are very popular at Christmas. “Prepared” hyacinth bulbs can be bought at the end of summer (around August/September) and have been manipulated to prompt early growth. If these bulbs are kept at a particularly cold temperature (under 9℃) then once they are brought into a warmer temperature they will be tricked into thinking it is spring and will provide you with beautiful flowers during the Christmas period.