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How to Grow Hyacinthus Plants (Hyacinth) in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Hyacinth Flowers

There are three main species in the Hyacinthus genus, with Hyacinthus orientalis the Common hyacinth (also known as Dutch or Garden) being the one that is best known by gardeners.

It is beloved by many gardeners as it has a wonderful scent, and Hyacinths are great for bringing color to parts of the garden with indirect light in the spring.

White hyacinth
White Hyacinth by Kaybee07.

Hyacinthus plants are grown from hardy bulbs, and there are over 2000 known cultivars.

They produce long single flower stalks that have a head of flowers of blue, white, purple, red, pink, orange, or yellow.

Commonly Grown Species

Hyacinthus orientalis

Purple Hyacinth
Purple Hyacinth by Marketing Specific, Inc.

This strongly scented hardy perennial is what most people think of Hyacinth plants. They carry three or four glossy strap shaped leaves

This species is hardy down to about -20°C (-4°F) USDA Zone 4, RHS zone H6 - with some cultivars being able to withstand even colder temperatures.

Plants are showy, with attractive bell shaped fragrant flowers carried on a spike

Hyacinthus orientalis usually grows to about 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches) in height, again this is depends on the cultivar, with many dwarf varieties being available.

Commonly Grown Hyacinth Cultivars

Delft Blue

This cultivar can reach about 30 cm (one foot) in height and carries fragrant blue hyacinth flowers. It is does very well down to RHS zone H4 in the UK – equivalent to USDA zone 6. It also makes a fantastic container plant, but be sure not to let the soil drench in the winter.

White Festival

Somewhat unusual as they have multiple stems. Typically creates six blooming spikes carrying snow white flowers.

Anna Marie

Beloved for its fragrance. Star shaped pale pink flowers that become darker as they age. Blooms for about three weeks in the spring.

City of Haarleem

Floret flowers of a Primrose yellow color. These turn ivory as they age.

Top White

These have a larger than normal dense floret spike of snow-white flowers

Other Common Cultivars and their Flower Color

Miss Saigon: Lilac/purple

Woodstock: Plum

Hyacinthus 'Woodstock'
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus 'Woodstock') by Westher.

Pink Pearl: Dark pink to purple hyacinth flower.

Splendid Cornelia: Lilac

Common Gardener's Hyacinth Questions

What is a good location to grow Hyacinth in the garden?

To me, Hyacanthus plants look their best when grown beneath deciduous trees or when used alongside a path.

As they can also be grown in direct sunlight they look great in pretty much any garden setting, particularly when grown in mass or groups in beds and borders, or in containers.

Do Hyacinths grow back every year?

Yes it is a perennial bulb plant. Although it will only flower once in the spring and then go dormant in the summer, it will bloom again the following spring.

When to Plant Hyacinthus? When do they Bloom?

Hyacinth Bulbs should be planted in the autumn as soil begins to cool, about six or seven weeks before the first frost. They should bloom the following spring.

How do I Force Hyacinthus Bulbs for Winter Blooming?

When grown naturally Hyacinth will flower in the spring. However, it is possible to force Hyacinthus plants to bloom in the wither indoors.

To do this, keep the bulbs (once potted) in a cold room for about a month at about 4 to 10°C (40 to 50°F). The pots will then require a winter simulation, so place in a colder area of about 0 to 3°C (32 to 37°F) for two to three months. Although the winter blooming results may not be quite as good, it is possible to chill the planted bulbs for three months in the fridge, for a successful rooting.

What are the best Growing Zones Hyacinthus?

Plants do well in USDA Zones 4 to 10, with some cultivars doing fine at even colder temperatures. It is classified in the RHS UK Zone H6, and is this considered hardy down to about -20°C (-4°F).

How do you Care for Hyacinthus Plants

When growing indoors or out, Hyacinthus plants will stop blooming and go into dormancy after about two or three months of blooming. Once flowers have completely senesced (leaves will still be green) and turned brown the stalk should be cut back.

Do not cut back the leaves, but let them naturally decay. This will allow the plant to retain important nutrients and to produce offsets. Once the leaves have completely decayed, they can be removed.

If growing indoors as a potted or container plant then it is important not to overwater plants as this can result in rotting.

They will also require a feed, indoors do this before blooming occurs as feeding blooming hyacinths can result in shorter blooming times and leaf rot. Outdoor plants do well with a slow-release granular fertilizer.

How to Propagate and Grow More Hyacinthus plants?

There are three main ways of propagation. They can be grown from seeds, bulblets, or purchased bulbs. If you wish to grow more from your own plants, then using offset bulblets is a great way of propagation as Hyacinth plants grown from seed seldom stay true.

To grow from offsets. First wait until the plant stops growing – they typically become dormant in the summer. Pull back the leaves and dig carefully around the bulb and harvest / replant the small bulb offsets that are present around it. Plant these at a depth of about 5 cm (2 inches).

Hyacinthus Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Hyacinth: Common; Dutch; Garden.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb.
Height: 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm).
Native: Mediterranean. Asia Minor.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 8; H6.
Flowers: Middle of spring.
Flower Details: Purple, yellow, blue, pink, red, white. Spiked cluster with two to fifty flowers. Trumpets. Fragrant.
Foliage: Strap shaped. Succulent.

Growing Hyacinth Outside: Usually grown from Hyacinthus bulbs as seed grown plants will not bear flowers for about four to six five years.
Bulbs: Plant tip upwards at a depth of 3 to 8 inches (8 to 20 cm) dependent upon soil density (deeper in light soils). Early in Autumn - be sure to plant bulbs as soil is cooling, ideally about six weeks before the first frost. Spacing 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm).
Seeds: May not grow true. 1/2 inch (12 mm). Late summer, or the start of autumn. Germination time: one month to one year. Seeds should first be sown into flats. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. After two years of growth, transplant the seedlings to be planted in their final location in the fall (autumn).
Offsets: Once the plant becomes dormant in the summer bulb offsets can be taken.
Sow Inside: No.

Requirements and care:  Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0. Rich soil. Regular watering during dry periods until plants finish blooming. Provide an early spring and an autumn feed. Once blooming has finished tidy by removing dead flowers. Winter mulch once the ground freezes. Plants last about four years. Propagate: from offsets.

Miscellaneous: Bulbs are poisonous and may cause skin irritations, it is recommended to wear gloves when handling Hyacinth bulbs.
Family: Asparagaceae.
Species in the Genus: Hyacinthus orientalis, Hyacinthus litwinovii, Hyacinthus transcaspicus.
Similar plants: the Grape Hyacinth belongs to a different genus: See my Muscari plant growing guide

How to Grow Hyacinth (Hyacinthus) Plants in the Garden

It is best to grow Hyacinth from bulbs, the depth that they are sown depends on the soil type, plant them about 13 cm deep in light soil and 7 cm deep in heavier soils.

It is best to plant hyacinth bulbs in the early autumn into an area of the garden that is sunny or receives partial shade. They prefer a rich slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6 to 7).

It is quite difficult to grow Hyacinthus plants from seeds. If you plan to, then sow seeds into flats at a depth of about 12 mm (1/2 inch). Bury the flat into a shady part of the garden and cover with glass.

The soil should be kept relatively moist. Germination can take from one month to one year.

If seedlings do appear let them grow until they are strong (at least a year) and transplant to their final location in the autumn. It will take from between three to six years until hyacinth grown from seed will flower.

Caring for Hyacinth in the Garden

Looking after Hyacinth plants requires a few simple steps. They should be fed in the spring and autumn, and require regular watering during the dry months of summer.

Once flowering has finished the dead flowers should be removed. It is best to supply a mulch to Hyacinth plants to protect them from the cold.

Be sure to protect the bulbs from rodents if they are a problem in your area.

Hyacinth typically have a good flowering life span of about 4 years. If you require more Hyacinthus plants then it is probably best to grow them from bulbs bought from a garden center or to plant offsets.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Hyacinthus plants. You may also be interested in my guides on growing early spring flowering bulbs: such as How to Grow Snowdrops, Planting Daffodils, and my Tulip Growing Guide.