Hyacinths are some of the most elegant flowers that can brighten your garden in early spring when most other plants are still dormant. And they’re probably the most fragrant of all the spring bulbs. But if you want to get the best out of your hyacinths, you need to plant the bulbs at the right time. So, what is the best time to plant hyacinths?
The best time to plant hyacinth bulbs is in the fall, after the first frost, before the ground freezes. Hyacinth bulbs need 12-14 weeks of chilling to stimulate root growth. So, you can plant them between September and early December and expect them to bloom in early spring.
Hyacinths are one of the easiest and most rewarding spring bulbs to grow. With some planning, you can have a stunning display of these fragrant flowers in your garden next spring. So let’s look at what you need to do to get your hyacinths off to a good start.
When to Plant Hyacinth?
Hyacinth bulbs (example on Amazon) are picky about when they are planted. They need a period of chilling to stimulate root growth, so plant them in mid to late fall when the temperature is still around 60F (~15.5C).
It’s roughly between September to December, depending on your location. The buds will take around 12-14 weeks of chilling at a temperature between 40 to 45 Farenheight (4.5 to 7 Celcius) before they start growing.
Hyacinths grow in Natural Hardiness Zones 4-8. So, if you live in an area with milder winters, you’ll need to store the bulbs in a fridge for at least six weeks before planting them outdoors.
Best Locations for Hyacinth
Hyacinths like a sunny spot with well-drained soil. They can also grow in light shade, but the growth will be spindlier. Avoid soddy, waterlogged soil because bulbs can rot or get gray mold if it’s too wet.
So the best places to plant hyacinths would be in;
- Border and Walkways: Hyacinths create a beautiful display when planted on a border or along the walkways. Since they’re early bloomers, you’ll get an excellent show of color even before the rest of your garden starts to bloom.
- Containers: If you don’t have the right soil or location in your garden, you can always grow them in containers. Just make sure to put the container in full sun.
- Under Deciduous trees: As long as the soil is moist enough, you can also plant them under deciduous trees. Hyacinths will get sun in early spring before the leaves come out on the trees.
How to Plant Hyacinth?
Now that you know the best time and locations to plant hyacinths, let’s look at how to plant them.
- Planting depth: The rule is to plant your bulbs two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Foor Hyacinths that would be around 5-6 inches deep.
- Spacing: Hyacinths look the best when planted in clumps. So plant them 5 to 6 inches apart. If you’re planting them on a border, you can plant them closer together (around 2-3 inches). This will give you a nice solid display of color, and the plants will support each other as they grow.
Planting in Containers
If you want to plant your hyacinths in outdoor containers, do it the same way as you would in the ground. Make sure you use a pot at least 12 inches deep to give the roots enough room to grow. You can plant multiple bulbs in the same pot; a ten-inch pot can hold around six bulbs.
However, if you don’t get a favorable temperature and want to keep the pot indoors, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- You’d need to artificially vernalize the bulbs, which means chilling them for 12-14 weeks before they start to grow. This can be done by putting the pot in cool (40-45 F/4.5-7 C) dark places like a basement or garage.
- Or, if you have warmer temperatures, keep them inside a fridge, wrapped in a mesh bag.
- Then plant the bulbs in the containers, mist lightly, and keep the containers in the dark for two weeks.
- Bring the containers out gradually into the light and warmer temperatures. You’ll start seeing the shoots coming up in a few weeks.
Hyacinths don’t need a lot of water. The rains during the fall are usually enough to get them going. So water the beds only if you’re getting unusual dry spells. Then, once the plants start to grow, you can water them when the soil feels dry to the touch. And stop watering altogether once the flowers begin to flower.
Bulbs are light feeders. If you have good quality soil, they will do just fine without any additional fertilizers. However, if you want to give them a little boost, use a slow-release bulb fertilizer like Bulb-tone (on Amazon) once the shoots start to come up.
Pests and Diseases
Hyacinth bulbs contain an irritant called Oxalic acid that protects them from most animals and pests. However, if you get many chipmunks or squirrels in your garden, they might still try to dig them up. So you might want to put a wire mesh around the bed to keep them out.
As for diseases, bulb rot or grey mold is the most common one. But they can be easily avoided with the proper planting and minimal watering.
Hyacinths are perennial plants, which means the plant dies after the flower fades and then returns the following year. However, the first year is the best show for hyacinths, and they tend to get weaker afterward. So it’s up to you whether you want to keep them.
To keep them, cut the flowering stalk down to the basal leaves after the flowers fade. This will help the plant put its energy into next year’s bulbs instead of making seeds.
If you’re not planning on keeping them, dig up the bulbs after the flower show is over and throw them away.
Tips and Tricks
- For the best show, plant your hyacinths in full sun.
- If you want to force them to bloom indoors, start the chilling process in September and transfer them to pots in December.
- Hyacinths don’t like sprinklers, so it’s best to gently water them at the base of the plant using a watering can or hose.
- If you have problems with digging animals, put an empty can with a lid over the bulbs.
- It’s essential to leave the green leaves after the plant has died. This is because they are necessary for plants to make food for next year’s growth.
- If you bought bulbs in spring, don’t plant them yet. Instead, store them in a cool, dark place until fall.