How to Grow Hyacinths?
Posted by Ben Rotteveel on

How to Grow Hyacinths?


HYACINTH PLANTING GUIDE

The most fragrant of all flower bulbs, hyacinths carry a heady scent that is simply unbeatable. The large blooms are made up of dozens of tiny florets, all unique in their shades of white, blue, pink, purple and even yellow. To get the most out of their springtime perfume, be sure to plant them where you walk or sit – garden paths and windowsills are ideal. 

One thing to keep in mind is that people with more sensitive skin might get a slight allergic reaction to touching hyacinth bulbs. If you don’t know whether your skin might react that way, it’s best to wear gloves when you handle them.


QUICK GUIDE 

  • WHEN

Plant in fall

Blooms in spring


  • WHERE

Hardiness zones 4-8

Full or partial sun

Well-draining soil


  • WATER

Moderately 


  • WIDTH & DEPTH

Depth: 6-8”

Width: 5-6”


Arrival

When your DutchGrown hyacinths arrive and you can’t plant them immediately, it’s important to store them correctly: unpack them right away and put them in a dry place with plenty of air circulation, where the temperature is between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Garden & Container Planting

Like all flower bulbs, hyacinths need a cold period to develop their roots and get ready for spring. So once you feel fall’s first chill in the air, it’s time to get planting. If you live in hardiness zone 9 or higher, the soil won’t get cold enough for the root-developing process to happen, but you might consider forcing 

Flower bulbs are tough cookies that are easy to grow, but one thing they hate is getting their feet wet: a bulb that is ‘bathing’ in water will rot in no time. So avoid soggy soil at all cost – this means places where you can still see puddles 5-6 hours after a rainstorm. Another thing you can do is to upgrade potentially soggy soil by adding organic material such as peat, bark or manure. When it comes to planting bulbs in containers, the mantra is exactly the same: drainage-drainage-drainage. Get a pot or box with at least some drainage holes at the bottom. 

Hyacinths need the sun to grow, but though they adore basking in its glory all day, they can also do very well in places with dappled shade or scattered sunlight.

Hyacinths will need to be planted deep enough that they won’t be affected by temperature variations above ground, either too warm or too cold. Unfortunately containers can’t protect bulbs as well as mother earth can, so when you live in hardiness zones 4-7 it might be better to let your containers spend the winter indoors, in a cool, dark, well-aired spot that won’t get warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, like an unheated basement or garage.

The standard method for calculating the ideal depth is to dig a hole three times as deep as the bulb is high, and place the bulb at the bottom with its pointy end up. Since hyacinths grow less well when they have to fight for nutrients with their fellow bulbs, it’s best to plant them 5-6” apart.

To help the bulbs settle and grow roots quickly, it’s important to water them well after planting, but after that you won’t have to water them again. Now all you have to do is wait patiently for winter to do its magic underground, and spring to surprise you with the rewards of your work. 

During blooming season, you generally don’t have to water your hyacinths, but you can water them when there hasn’t been any rain for 3-5 days. 

After hyacinths have finished blooming, don’t cut the foliage straight away: through photosynthesis the leaves will create nutrients that the bulb will be needing for its next growing season. After a few weeks the foliage will automatically yellow and die back, and then you can remove it. Now the bulb will be going dormant, and won’t need any watering until next spring. 


How to plant hyacinths in your garden:

  1. Wait until the soil is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. In the North this will be in September or October, in the South in October or November.
  2. Pick a spot in your garden that has well-draining soil and gets full sun or partial shade.
  3. Plant the hyacinth bulbs about 6-8” deep and 5-6” apart, placing them in the ground with their pointy ends up.
  4. Water well once and wait for spring
  5. After the hyacinths have bloomed don’t cut off the foliage. Leave it until it’s completely withered and yellow, then remove.
How To Plant Hyacinth Bulbs


How to plant hyacinths in pots or containers:

  1. Wait until it’s cold outside, with a soil temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. In the North this will be in September or October, in the South in October or November.
  2. Pick a spot in your garden that gets full sun or partial shade.
  3. Find a well-draining container and fill it with loose soil, making sure water won’t gather and stay at the bottom.
  4. Plant the hyacinth bulbs about 6-8” deep and 5-6” apart, placing them in the soil with their pointy ends up. Since containers often have limited space, you can also experiment with placing the bulbs closer together, but make sure they never touch.  
  5. Water well once and wait for spring, or, when you live in hardiness zone 3-7, water well and bring the containers indoors, letting them spend the winter in a cool spot like an unheated garage or basement. 
  6. After the hyacinths have bloomed don’t cut off the foliage. Leave it until it’s completely withered and yellow, then remove.
How To Plant Hyacinths in Pots or Containers


Special Occasion

Together with paperwhites and amaryllis, hyacinths are favorite bulbs to force for Christmas. In this process a flower bulb is fooled into thinking it’s already winter, by storing it in a cold space for a number of weeks. 

  • Forcing hyacinths for Christmas
  1. In late September or early October, fill half of a well-draining pot with soil and place the hyacinth bulbs on top, with their pointy ends up. Then add more soil till only the tops of the bulbs are sticking out. 
  2. Plant as many bulbs in the pot as you want, as long as they don’t touch the side or each other. 
  3. Water the bulbs to settle the soil, then bring the pots to a cool, dark place where it won’t get warmer than 45F, like a shed or an unheated basement or garage. Leave them there for 10 weeks, checking regularly to make sure the soil hasn’t dried out. 
  4. Once the shoots are about 2” high, bring the pots indoors and place them in a cool window with indirect light. When the buds are starting to show some color they are ready to be moved to a sunny window. 


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