Hyacinths: A Treat for the Senses
by Amanda Shepard, American Meadows staff writer
Hyacinths are some of the most versatile and easy to grow spring-blooming flowers. Their early-season blooms are a favorite food source for bees that are just waking up from their winter hibernation. Brightly colorful blooms bring a sweet fragrance to the garden, pairing well with other spring flowers such as early Tulips and Daffodils. Hyacinths also grow well in pots and can be forced for indoor blooms in winter.
A History Of Hyacinths
Our friends at the National Garden Bureau named Hyacinths the flower bulb of the year for 2021.
"Flower lovers began cultivating hyacinths more than 400 years ago. During the 18th century, they were the most popular spring bulbs in the world, and Dutch growers offered more than 2000 named cultivars. Today, there are less than 50 cultivars in commercial production, but the hyacinth’s beauty and sweet perfume are as enchanting as ever.
Commonly called Dutch hyacinths or garden hyacinths, they are hybrids of a single species (Hyacinthus orientalis) that grows wild in Turkey, Syria, and other areas in the eastern Mediterranean. Today’s garden hyacinths look very different from the wild species. After centuries of breeding, they have taller flower spikes and much larger, mostly double florets that are tightly packed along the stem. Each hyacinth bulb produces a single 8-to-12-inch tall flower stalk and 4 to 6 strappy leaves. The blossoms open in mid-spring, at the same time as daffodils and early tulips."
Hyacinths were made famous by Madame de Pompadour, the beautiful mistress of France's King Louis XV, a highly educated beauty whose taste in art and fashion were widely followed. For flowers, she favored the Dutch Hyacinth over all others and loved its intoxicating perfume. She filled the vast Versailles gardens with them in spring, and for the rest of the year, they bloomed in every room in the palace in glass Hyacinth vases.
Hyacinths Are Easy To Grow
Hyacinths make a bold, colorful statement when planted with Daffodils and Tulips. All three bloom in mid-spring and create a spectacular show for both the eyes and the nose. Plant extras for gorgeous spring bouquets!
Besides being fragrant and easy to grow indoors, Hyacinths are a perennial spring-bloomer, meaning they illuminate the garden year after year. They are also unappealing to pesky critters such as deer and rabbits, staying safe in the ground and not likely to be dug up.
Plant Hyacinth Bulbs This Fall - A Treat For The Senses In Spring
Forcing Hyacinths to Bloom in the Winter Months
It's easy to enjoy the sweet fragrance of Hyacinths inside throughout the winter months.
- Pot Hyacinth Bulbs in any container or arrange them in a paper bag.
- Place them in a cool, dark place (not freezing) for about three months. This "forces" them into dormancy.
- Once the 12 weeks have passed, pot them up, and place them in a sunny spot indoors.
- Water and enjoy the early breath of life and color in your home!
To learn more about this process, read our blog "Force Bulbs Now for Early Spring Blooms."