Once you’ve smelled the sweet, heavenly scent of hyacinth, you’re likely to fall in love with this spring-blooming bulb and want them throughout the garden. Like most bulbs, the common way to propagate hyacinth is by dividing and planting young bulblets that develop on the mother bulb. However, as hyacinth flowers fade and small green seed pods begin to form in their place, you may wonder, can you propagate hyacinth seeds? Continue reading to learn about saving hyacinth seed and hyacinth seed propagation.
Can You Propagate Hyacinth Seeds?
While not the quickest and easiest method of hyacinth propagation, with some patience, you can grow hyacinths from seed. To do so, first you’ll need to allow the hyacinth seeds to mature on the plant. Rather than cutting the faded blooms back on all your hyacinth, leave a few to develop seed pods.
At first, these seed heads will be bright green and fleshy but, as they mature, they turn a tan color and split open to disperse little black seeds. The easiest method of saving hyacinth seeds is to wrap nylon pantyhose around the hyacinth flowers that have gone to seed to catch the seeds once the pods disperse them.
It’s important to know that hyacinths grown from seed may not develop into the same variety of hyacinth that the seed was collected from. Many times with sexual propagation (seed propagation) of plants, the resulting plants will revert to qualities of other parent plants. For this reason, the best way to propagate plants that are exactly the same variety as the plant you want is by asexual propagation, like divisions and cuttings.
For hyacinths, the best way to create more of a specific variety of hyacinth is to plant the small bulbs that form on the parent bulb.
Growing Hyacinth from Seed
When hyacinth seed pods have split open, you can carefully remove the nylon pantyhose and collect the seeds and spread them out to dry. Once dried, if you are going to save the seeds for later use, store them in an envelope or paper bag in a cool, dry place. Fresh seed is most viable. Next, soak the seed in lukewarm water for 24-48 hours. There are two methods of getting hyacinth seed to sprout.
The first is to lay out a thin strip of hyacinth seed on a moistened paper towel, cover with another moistened paper towel and gently place this in a plastic bag. Place the plastic bag in your refrigerator in a place where it will not be disturbed or squashed, and simply wait until the seeds sprout in the fridge. Then gently plant the sprouts 2-3 inches apart in a seed tray filled with a mix of peat moss and perlite, and place this tray in a cold frame or greenhouse.
The other method of growing hyacinth from seed is to just plant the seed directly in a seed tray filled with a mixture of peat and perlite, and place the tray in a cold frame or greenhouse.
Either method will take patience. For the first year, the hyacinth will not sprout much more than a few leaves. During this first year, the seed’s energy will be used to develop a bulb, not foliage or flowers. When growing hyacinth from seed, it can actually take up to six years before some varieties of hyacinth will even develop a flower.
Bulb growth is the priority in the first couple years of seed grown hyacinths, but you can help it along with a monthly dose of rooting or bulb boosting fertilizer. Patience is the key to proper hyacinth seed propagation.