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Tips and Growing Instructions: Hyacinths

Tips & Growing Instructions: Hyacinths

The Hyacinth is a member of the large and lovely Lily Family. (Consider its tubular florets and intense fragrance and you'll understand the connection.) Hyacinths thrive in well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Throughout most of the U.S., they will return year after year, adding beauty and fragrance to garden beds and indoor bouquets. Dutch bulb growers have cultivated Hyacinths since the 17th century. By 1838, these brilliantly coloured spring gems had become so popular that more than 2,000 varieties were available! The uniform, upright shape of the flower spikes and jewel-tone colours made Hyacinths favourite for formal Victorian gardens. Now 21st century gardeners are rediscovering this classic flowering bulb, which complements gardens of all sizes and styles. For a bold, dramatic effect in your spring landscape, fill an entire bed with a single Hyacinth variety, or plant masses of Hyacinths to form a large, gently curving swath of colour. For even more visual excitement, plant a single variety of tulip of a contrasting colour along both sides of the Hyacinths—choose a tulip that will bloom simultaneously with your hyacinths.

Hyacinths For a more informal look, mix hyacinths of various colours with Tulips, daffodils, pansies, primroses and other spring-blooming flowers. Be sure to plant a few groups along a walkway, where you can enjoy their fragrance each time you pass. Hyacinths are also one of the easiest bulbs to grow in pots.

You can easily force your hyacinths indoors. You will need a hyacinth bulb vase - a special glass vase with a pinched neck and bulb-sized "cup" at the top. Most garden centers carry several shapes and colors.

•  Place the bulb in the top of the vase. Fill the vase with water to just below the bulb (add a piece of charcoal to help prevent algae growth). Place the vase in a cool, dark place for two months. Check the water level weekly to make sure it is just under the base of the bulb.

•  After eight to ten weeks, place the vase in a dimly lit place. By now you should see roots extending into the water and a shoot growing upwards. If the roots have not developed well enough, put the bulb back in the dark for a few weeks more.

•  Over the next three weeks, slowly bring the vase into a warmer, brighter position, but no more than 18°C. Too much heat at this stage can result in a rush into flowering before the stem has developed enough height.

•   Four to six weeks after bringing the vase out of the dark, your hyacinth will be in full bloom! Keep it in a bright spot with diffused light. Full sun will cause it to age quickly. After flowering, transplant into your garden.

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