(Species: Hyacinthus orientalis - Family: Liliacea)
Hyacinth and its origins
The Hyacinth is considered a native of the Mediterranean region and dates back to ancient times. The species from which all modern varieties derive is the Common Hyacinth also known as the Garden Hyacinth or Dutch Hyacinth (Hyacinth Orientalis), it was imported from Western Asia in the late 16th century.
During the 18th century, Hyacinths were so popular in Holland, its chief commercial producer, that they created 1000s of cultivars and became the key nation to spread the use of Hyacinths. In the language of flowers, it is a token of love and an indication of a desire to begin dating.
Seasonality: Hyacinth in flower
Traditionally spring blooming flowers, certain Hyacinth species can be forced into bloom in time for Christmas but the majority will flower between March and April. Tall and highly fragrant, the flowers bloom in dense clusters and each one is a delicate bell shape. The leaves are long and narrow with a crease that is folded lengthwise.
There are a wide variety of colours available from whites and yellows to pinks, reds and blues. Hyacinths typically reach 25-30cm in height.
How to Plant: Hyacinth
Hyacinths thrive in loose, well-drained soil which has good fertility. Prepare the soil in advance of planting and add sand or fertiliser where necessary to change its composition. Bulbs should be planted in autumn between September and November to bloom in spring.
The flowers enjoy exposure to sunshine as they grow but can also be planted in partly shaded areas of the garden. Place the bulbs 10-12cm deep into the ground and also give them a 10cm distance from the next bulb. As soon as the petals begin to brown, the blooms should be removed, to focus the nutrients on the growing plant. The leaves should then be left to die naturally. The stems need to be cut when they die.
Hyacinths are also suited to growing in pots. In a 40cm rectangular box you can expect to place 7 bulbs. Hyacinths can also be purchased in containers that allow you to cultivate without using soil, instead using water to develop the roots and shoots.
Propagation of Hyacinth
Propagation is possible by removing bulblets that form on the main bulb. The bulb itself will need time to recover after the blooming period; this crucial time allows the hyacinth bulb to store energy, in preparation for the blooming period the following year.
The bulblets will grow on the main bulb until they are mature enough to be divided and this allows a single hyacinth bulb to produce a number of plants within 3-5 years.