Hyacinths. Bring a Sweet Scent to Your Spring Garden

by Polly

Hyacinths: Bring a sweet scent to your spring garden. You only need a handful to appreciate their beauty. They are easy to grow, readily available in garden centers and fill the air with an unmistakable sweet fragrance.

This member of the lily family is small and compact, so it’s most effective when planted in clusters. Each bulb produces strap-like leaves and a single rounded spike of tiny flowers on a leafless stem.

Today, almost all hyacinths are produced in Holland. The largest flower bulbs produce the tallest flowers and are best for indoor use. Mid-sized bulbs don’t need staking and hold up better in the garden.

These hardy bulbs need a period of chilling to grow and bloom properly. If you live in the South, the bulbs don’t get that because the soil stays warm in winter. But don’t waste your hard-earned money buying “ pre-cooled” bulbs – do the job yourself.

When you get new bulbs, simply pop them in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator, and leave them there for five weeks. Plant them in April, and they’ll brighten your beds and borders in spring!

The hyacinth bulbs need a sunny location early in the growing season. But, they will tolerate light shade after flowering, making them ideal for planting under deciduous trees and shrubs with leaves that emerge in late spring.

The dense flower clusters of hyacinths come in just about every color of the rainbow, in both bright colors and pastels. They’re a snap to grow in Zones 5 to 7; just give them full sun and average, well-drained soil.

Prefer your flowers a little more delicate-looking? Roman hyacinths are an old-fashioned favorite, with multiple spikes of pink, blue, or white blooms. These blooms are much less formal-looking than their highly hybridized cousins. They are also a better choice for southern gardens, since they prefer the warmer temperatures of Zones 6 to 8.

Plant bulbs about 6 inches deep and 6 to 9 inches apart. To make the most of their luxurious scent, place a few near a doorway or in a window box.

For maximum impact, plant hyacinths alongside other flower bulbs. Try pairing rosy-red Amsterdam with sunny daffodils, or vivid yellow City of Haarlem with Spanish bluebells or grape hyacinths.

Ever notice that hyacinth flowers are really full the first year, but then they get looser spikes with fewer blooms in the following years? If you want to keep your blooms at their brand-new best, do what we do: Feed them with a balanced fertilizer (like 5-10-5 ) as soon as the leaves emerge in spring.

Or, if you want a perfect display of big, full flowers, plant new bulbs every year and move the old ones elsewhere in your yard.

Blooms of these perennial flowers usually last about two weeks. After they fade, deadhead to prevent seed formation. A quick method is to cup the bottom of the flower spike gently and slide your hand slowly upward to remove the blossoms.

Don’t snap off the leaves, however, they are still busy producing food for the bulbs. Stems and leaves can be removed with a light tug after they yellow.

If you dig up the bulbs, separate offsets and bulblets to replant with the parent bulbs. It will take 2 to 3 years for these “baby bulbs” to flower, but you’ll add to your springtime show.

If you accidentally slice into a hyacinth bulb while digging, don’t throw the bulb away! Dust minor bulb wounds with wood ashes and let them dry. Then, replant as usual. If the wound is deep, or the bulb is cut in half, store the fragments, cut side up, in a cool, dry place.

Small bulbs should develop on each cut surface. Plant them in the fall, and you’ll have a new crop of flowers in a few years!

Hyacinths: Bring a sweet scent to your spring garden and fill your home with a breath of spring!

Yours truly for a great garden with flowers, berries, and veggies

Polly – Organic Gardener

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