One of the earliest spring bulbs is the hyacinth. They usually appear after crocus but before tulips and have old-fashioned charm combined with a sweet, subtle scent. Hyacinth flower bulbs need to be planted in fall so the bulb experiences winter temperatures and breaks dormancy. Continue reading for some tips on how to plant hyacinth flowers in the garden so you can enjoy some early spring color.
Planting Hyacinth Bulbs
Hyacinths in the garden are suitable for a wide range of USDA zones, 3 through 9. They are thought to be native to the eastern Mediterranean region and need well-draining soil and winter’s chill to thrive.
Their signature fragrance has been used in French perfume and their appearance is a part of the Persian New Year celebrations. In the home garden, they are just plain lovely and a signal that spring has arrived and colorful flower displays are just getting started.
One of the most common problems with any bulb is waterlogged soil. If soil doesn’t drain well, the bulb sits in water and is prey to rot. Prior to planting hyacinth bulbs, perform a drainage test by digging a trench, filling it with water, and watching how long it takes to drain.
If water is still sitting in the trench a half hour later, you will need to amend the soil by mixing in leaf litter or other organic amendments, compost, or even a bit of sand or pebbles. Tilling, drainage, and organic matter are the most important components for hyacinth flower bulbs. In heavy clay soils, consider planting in a raised bed to encourage draining.
How to Plant Hyacinth Flowers
In fall, around September to October, plant your bulbs. Choose fat, large bulbs with no signs of disease and decay. Plant the bulbs at least three to four times as deep as they are tall. Install them with the pointed side up.
The flowers perform best in full sun but will still produce blooms in partial shade. They should at least experience six hours per day of sunlight.
If your soil has low nutrients, mix in a 5-5-10 slow release plant food. Hyacinths in the garden usually need no care after planting until blooming because nature will perform the chilling requirements necessary to force flowering once temperatures warm.
Care for Hyacinths Outdoors
In good soil, these sweet flowers need little care. Water after installation if no precipitation is expected.
Feed bulbs every spring with bulb food. Scratch it into the soil around the bulbs and water in.
Once flowers are finished blooming, cut off the flower stalk but leave the foliage. They will produce and store energy for the following year’s growth. Once leaves are yellow and limp, you can usually just pull them easily from the soil if you wish.
If winter temperatures do not get below 60 degrees F. (16 C.), dig up the bulbs and store them in a refrigerator for eight weeks prior to replanting.
Slugs are occasional pests, but deer and rabbits avoid this plant due to its oxalic acid content.