Hyacinthus orientalis is the common garden Hyacinth, a hardy perennial bulbous plant, with long, narrow, fleshy, glossy green leaves that are folded lengthwise and dense clusters of star-shaped, fragrant, tubular florets that appear in early to mid spring. Flower colors include all shades of pink, peach, orange, salmon, red, lavender, white, yellow, purple and blue. Varieties of the Hyacinth flowers are: single, double or multi-flora Hyacinths.
Those beautiful spring flowers can find their place in any garden: planted in groups to provides a compact, elegant display along walkways, at the front of a border, in beds or among shrubs or planted in containers to add a splash of color and flagrance to your terrace or patio. They are also used as cut flowers or forced bulbs for a flagrant winter display. The Hyacinth bulb is a light purple or cream in color and covered with dry, papery, skin-like layers.
Growing Hyacinths in the garden
Hyacinths love open, sunny or partially shaded positions with fertile, light, sandy, well-draining soil. For offering the best growing conditions to you Hyacinths you should incorporated into the soil well-rotted compost, peat or leaf-mould and sand.
The Hyacinth bulb is hardy, but the foliage and flowers are harmed by a sharp frost and may need some protection in late spring. You should start with good quality bulbs, not damaged, that are hard and heavy. Plant the bulbs in early to mid autumn, before the ground freezes, 20 cm deep and about 15-20 cm apart, in irregular groups of three or more for the best display. If you live in a zone with cold winters you must add mulch to protect the bulbs over winter. Remove the mulch in spring after frost danger has passed. Water well after growth has commenced. To encourage bigger blooms and to keep plants more robust the following season you can spread a small amount of bulb fertilizer in the hole during planting or you can apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring.
After blooming cut off the flower stalk to stop the plant consuming energy for seed production, maintain regular watering and let the foliage to die down naturally, as the leaves produce energy to the bulbs for next year's growth. You can lift and store the bulbs in dry peat or soil until you will plant them again next autumn. If you live in an area where there is no need for you to lift and store the bulbs you still need to dig them up after a couple of years, separate and replant them to stop overcrowding.
Growing Hyacinths in containers
Hyacinths make excellent container plants for a window box or a pot placed near a doorway. For growing Hyacinths in containers you can choose to grow them in bulb fiber or in a light, rich, sandy soil mixture. Place the bulbs in the container so that they nearly touch and covered with soil until just the tips peek through. Water well after planting.
You can allow them to flower at their usual time in spring or you can force them to promote blooming in winter. If you want to force the bulbs, place them in a refrigerator or in a cold area before planting. Pot them in early autumn, then keep them cool and damp for several weeks to ensure they develop an adequate root system. When shoot tips appear, move them into a place with a temperature of 10 Celsius degrees (50 F). Move them to a warmer environment as more shoots appear, giving them as much light as possible. While they are in flower, keep the soil in pots very moist and do not apply fertilizer. After the bloom is over you can move them in the garden.
Forcing Hyacinths in water
To force Hyacinth bulbs in water use special glass containers called forcing jars, weigh bulbs down in the jar and fill it with water until it covers the lower half of the bulbs. Keep the jar in a cool and dark place for about 4 to 8 weeks until roots begin to form and the shoots begin to elongate. Then bring the bulbs into a warm, sunny area and watch them flower. Add water as necessary. You can force successive flowerings of Hyacinths indoors, when one wave of flowers begin to fade, remove the container and replaced it with a new one full of fresh flowers. After flowering transplant into your garden.
Hyacinths may be propagated vegetatively, by removing the bulblets that have developed by the end of the growing season. They can be stored in dry sand or earth untill the next planting time, in late summer or early autumn. It will take two or three years until they will flower.
Hyacinths can also be propagated by making a number of cuts in the bulb, which promotes the development of new bulblets. Turn the Hyacinth bulb upside down, cut away the basal plate of the bulb using a sharp knife, then make a series of V-shaped cuts around the edge of the bulb where the basal plate was removed. Leave the bulb exposed to the air for a few days to allow it to form a protective callus, then bury the bulb upside down in moist sand. New bulblets will grow from the wounds made in the base of the Hyacinth bulb.