Garden hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) are a spring-flowering variety of the lily family that most gardening enthusiasts prefer growing indoors or in garden soil. They are best known for their star-shaped flowers, borne in dense clusters in a long spike inflorescence (each measuring about 10 inches). The vibrant blooms are not only large and magnificent, but they are fragrant too, thus filling the garden or room with a pervading, pleasant scent. Another reason for their wide popularity is that they are easy to grow and maintain in water or any type of soil.
Growing hyacinth bulbs is no different from growing other spring-flowering bulbs. If you understand basic gardening skills, you can maintain them easily in your garden. Being a hardy plant, you can grow the bulbs in water, and in indoor or outdoor gardens.
Site: Hyacinths bulbs thrive well in partial-to-full sun. But, you will get the largest blooms when planted in bright sunlight. Therefore, select the plantation site in your garden accordingly. If you are keeping it indoors (home or office), place it in a corner that receives indirect sunlight.
Timing: Planting hyacinths at the correct time is crucial to promote quick germination and flowering in mid-spring. So, fall is the best time to grow these bulbs; you can prepare the soil and plant them 6 - 8 weeks before the arrival of heavy frost.
Selecting the Variety: Based on the cultivar, hyacinths bloom in different colors, such as white, yellow, pink, blue, purple, and red. As per your personal choice, select the variety that will complement the landscape design of the garden or the interior design of the room.
Purchasing the Bulbs: In order to get larger blooms, you should select healthy and large bulbs. You can opt for varieties that flower early in late winter. Also, do not forget to check the disease and pest resistance of the varieties.
Prepare the Soil: Using a tiller, loosen your garden soil thoroughly to a depth of 10 - 15 inches, and remove weeds. Supplement the soil with a thick layer (2 - 4 inches) of farmyard compost. If you are planting the bulbs in a pot, purchase potting mixture from the nursery or prepare your own by mixing one part each of sand, loam, and compost. A pot with a diameter of 5 - 6 inches is excellent for growing a single bulb.
Planting: Dig the soil to a depth of 6 - 8 inches and place the bulb with the pointed end facing up. Cover the bulb with soil and press firmly to remove air pockets. You can assemble the bulbs in groups (4-6 inches between two plants) to create a peculiar design in the garden. Or else, if maintained in containers, you can plant different varieties in one pot.
Care: As long as the soil is well-drained, the plants will remain healthy and disease-free. Caring includes watering regularly to keep the soil moist (but not too wet) and supplementing the soil with compost around the period when the flower buds appear. Avoid crowding the bulbs, as it can have a negative impact in the flower size and their health.
After-bloom Care: Hyacinth flowers are larger in the first year of plantation, after which the flowers decrease in size gradually. Thus, most hobbyists prefer replanting annually. After the blooms dry out, cut the flower's stalk at the base (deadheading). This will help conserve the nutrients for the next growing season. But, allow the leaves to grow and desiccate on their own, since they are required for the basic functioning of the plant, and don't take up as many nutrients.
Growing hyacinth bulbs is easy and fun, and you get to enjoy the spectacular and fragrant blooms in spring. You can also force the plants to flower early by growing them indoors in controlled environmental conditions.