Make Room in Your Garden for Hyacinths

Enjoy the Most Fragrant Flowers of Spring

One of the best things about walking into a spring flower show is the fragrance. It instantly puts a smile on the face of every winter weary gardener. Many people don’t realize that what they are smelling when they come through those doors isn’t tulips, daffodils or muscari. It’s hyacinths!

Without question, hyacinths are the most fragrant flowers of spring. During the 18th and 19th centuries, hyacinths were the world’s most popular flower bulbs and gardeners could choose from more than 2000 cultivars. But at some point, these sweetly scented bulbs fell out of favor. Today, lots of people plant tulips and daffodils, but hardly anyone plants hyacinths.

If you are one of the many gardeners who are missing out on hyacinths, here are a few reasons you should consider planting some in your garden:


Hyacinths are Easy to Grow

Like other fall-planted bulbs, a hyacinth bulb already contains everything that’s needed to produce a flower. All you do is plant the bulb and wait until spring.

As with most bulbs, the better the soil, the better the results. Like tulips, hyacinths need moisture in the spring. But during summer and winter, when the bulbs are dormant, the soil should be quite dry. Plant hyacinths in loose, well-drained soil to get the tallest, straightest flower stalks with perfectly spaced florets. If you want the bulbs to bloom for more than one year, make sure to plant them in full sun.


If you garden in a warm climate (zones 8-10) you will need to chill the bulbs before planting. Otherwise the flowers will be poorly formed or may not emerge at all. More information about that can be found HERE.

Here’s another thing to love about these fragrant spring flowers. You won’t have to worry about deer! Like daffodils, all parts of the plant contain a substance that’s toxic to deer, voles, rabbits and other pesky critters.


Hyacinths Come in Fabulous Colors

Back when hyacinths were in their heyday, gardeners could choose from hundreds of different colors. Today there are only about 20 in cultivation, but every color that remains is gorgeous in its own way. It’s easy to find varieties that will complement the bulbs and other plants in your spring garden. Check out the options HERE.


Hyacinths Are Good Partners

When planting hyacinths among other plants, try to plant in groups of 5 or more bulbs. These pools of color are much more effective than a sprinkling of individual bulbs.

Look for places that will make it easy to enjoy the fragrance of your hyacinths: beside a front walk or along a garden path; near the front door or bordering a patio. Gardeners in zones 6 and 7, can plant hyacinths in containers and leave them outdoors for the winter. Learn more HERE.


Hyacinths Can Be Enjoyed Indoors, Too

One of the best ways to enjoy the fragrance of hyacinths is to bring them into your home as cut flowers. Here are a couple of options.

If you want the bulbs to bloom again next year, cut only the stem and leave all the leaves behind. If you are treating your bulbs as annuals, you can pull up the entire plant, bulb and all. This will give you a much longer stem, as well as the option of displaying the flower with its foliage.


Hyacinths are also very good bulbs for forcing. It's one reason there are always plenty of them at flower shows. In late fall, I plant several pots of hyacinth bulbs and store them in my basement refrigerator for the winter. Just fill a shallow container with several inches of moist growing mix and position the bulbs by side so they are almost touching. Cover with a few more inches of soil and water well. The tips of the bulbs should be just below the soil surface. 

Learn about the process of forcing HERE.


Once you fall under the hyacinth’s spell, there’s no going back. Their sweet perfume is unforgettable and the memory of it will carry you from one spring to the next.

Learn more here: All About Hyacinths.


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