Hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) are fragrant, easy-to-grow spring bulbs. They flower in a range of colours, from traditional purple and pink to white, and even mauve. Plant hyacinths at the front of garden borders for a spring display, or in pots for a fragrant splash of colour nearer the house.
How to grow hyacinths
Plant hyacinth bulbs into moist but well-drained soil in full sun between September and November, 10cm deep and 8cm apart. Water when the soil is dry.
Hyacinths work well at the front of spring borders, along with other spring bulbs like grape hyacinths (muscari) and tulips. Their small size makes them ideal for spring pot displays.
In the house, grow hyacinths in a bright, airy spot, ideally with plenty of sunshine.
How to plant hyacinths
It’s a good idea to wear gloves when planting hyacinth bulbs, as they can irritate the skin.
Growing outdoor hyacinths:
Plant the bulbs in autumn, ideally in a sunny spot in moist but well-drained soil.
Prepare the soil by removing weeds and dig to reduce compaction if necessary, then add organic matter such as well-rotted animal manure or compost.
Plant the bulbs at a depth of around 10cm, and 8cm apart.
Cover with soil and gently firm around them. Water the soil if it’s dry.
Growing hyacinths in pots:
Plant hyacinths in peat-free multi-purpose compost, around 5cm apart.
For long-term displays use a loam-based compost such as John Innes No.2, and plant the bulbs further apart, as you would if planting them in the ground.
Add an annual dressing of slow-release fertiliser to help keep the display looking its best.
How to plant hyacinths indoors
Hyacinths make fantastic, fragrant Christmas displays. For the best results buy ‘prepared’ or heat-treated bulbs, which don’t need to be forced for as long to encourage early flowers. You don’t need to plant indoor hyacinths as deeply as you would in outdoor pots or in the ground.
Simply place the bulbs on a 5cm layer of compost, so they’re close together but not touching. Fill compost around them so the top of each bulb is visible. Water lightly to moisten the compost. Cover them and keep them somewhere dark and cool for around 10 weeks until shoots appear, and then move into a light, airy spot to bring on the flowers.
When to plant hyacinth bulbs
Plant hyacinth bulbs in autumn, typically from September to November. However you can usually get away with planting hyacinths up to Christmas but you may find they flower later than they would normally.
For Christmas hyacinths, plant the bulbs around 13 weeks beforehand, around the last week of September. For guaranteed Christmas blooms, plant three batches, each at weekly intervals, so if one batch goes over there will be two more in the sidelines ready to flower on the big day.