A member of the Lilly family, bright and bold Hyacinths are quite the travellers. We commonly think of Hyacinths as Dutch Bulbs, and therefore, originating in the Netherlands. But, they really originated in Turkey. During the 1500's, traders brought them back to Europe and they found a perfect home in the soil and climate of the Netherlands. Later, they were introduced into the United States, and quickly gained popularity.

Hyacinths are a beautiful and fragrant spring flowering bulb. There are many varieties of Hyacinths. Colors include purple, blue, white, pink, and yellow.

They are also popular as a forced bloom in winter, brightening your home or office. Keep active in gardening during the cold, snowy months by forcing your own. Why should greenhouses have all the fun!?!

Facts About Hyacinths

  • An ancient Greek legend describes the origin of the Hyacinth. Two of the gods, Apollo and Zephyr, adored a handsome young Greek called Hyakinthos. Apollo was teaching Hyakinthos the art of throwing a discus.

    Zephyr, who was the god of the west wind, was overcome with jealousy and he blew the discus back. It struck Hyakinthos on the head and killed him. From his blood grew a flower, which the sun god Apollo named after him.

  • The word 'Hyacinth' has also surfaced in an ancient language (called 'Thracopelasgian'), which was spoken 4,000 years ago.
  • The wild Hyacinth is a native of Turkey and the Middle East, along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Hyacinths were grown in Europe in the time of the Greeks and Romans. Both Homer and Virgil noted the sweet fragrance.
  • After this, the Hyacinth faded from history, and did not reappear until the 16th century when it was reintroduced into Western Europe from Turkey and Iran. Leonhardt Rauwolf, (a German doctor) collected some Hyacinths when he visited Turkey in 1573.
  • Hyacinths have been cultivated commercially since the second half of the 16th century. They became very popular in 18th and early 19th century Europe.
  • The bulbs are now grown commercially in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands Hyacinths are also grown as cut flowers.
  • The common garden Hyacinth is cultivated to a minor extent in the Netherlands for the perfumery trade. However, most Hyacinth perfume sold is synthetic, based primarily upon phenylacetaldehyde. Hence, the Hyacinth is also called the Dutch Hyacinth.
  • The normal bloom time for Hyacinths is March to April.
  • March 7th is the World Hyacinth Day.
  • In the Victorian language of flowers the Hyacinth flower symbolizes sport or play, and the blue Hyacinth signifies sincerity.

Varieties of Hyacinths

  • Single Hyacinths : The full heads on these classic hyacinths look good in the garden or forced in pots. Blue Giant is one of the largest singles, and has sky blue flowers with dark blue veins.
  • Double Hyacinths : Fluffy whorls of colorful flowers are arranged on 10-12 inch stems. Hollyhock is an outstanding variety that features dark pink blooms.
  • Multiflora Hyacinths : Each bulb produces a number of flower stalks with loose arrangements of flowers. These are less formal than singles and doubles.

Growing Hyacinths

  • Plant hyacinth bulbs in fall, 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F.
  • This is usually during September and October in the North, and October and November in the South.
  • Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
  • Dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep.
  • Set the bulb in the hole, pointy end up, then cover with soil and press firmly.
  • Space bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart.
  • Water thoroughly after planting.

After they bloom in spring, allow the plants to grow until the leaves die off. They need time after blooming to store energy in the bulbs for next year. To remove the dead plant, either snip them off at the base, or twist the leaves while pulling lightly.

Hyacinth Plant Care

  • Keep Hyacinths watered during dry spells in the fall.
  • After the plants are finished flowering in spring, cut back flower stalks but allow the leaves to die back naturally, hiding the unsightly foliage with annual or perennial plantings.
  • An annual application of compost should provide adequate nutrients.
  • Flower size may decline in subsequent years, so some gardeners treat Hyacinths as annuals and plant fresh bulbs each fall.


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