Growing Hyacinth Plants: How To Care For Dutch Hyacinth

Hyacinths are bulbous, spring-blooming perennials belonging to the genus Hyacinthus and a member of Asparagaceae or the Asparagus family.

It’s closely related to the seasonal Crocus, summer-flowering Daylily, succulent Agave, and the vegetable Asparagus.

Growing HyacinthPin

The genus name Hyacinth originated from Greek mythology. According to legend, the god of the sun, Apolo, gave the name to the flowers that grew from the blood of a young follower, Hyakinthos, who was accidentally killed by the god Zephyr.

Hyacinths are often confused with the genus Muscari, commonly known as grape hyacinths, due to similar appearances and care requirements. However, they are not directly related.

These perennial spring bulbs are native to the Mediterranean regions (from south of Turkey to Palestine) and tropical regions of Africa.

Although they’re widely naturalized in countries of Europe like Italy, Netherlands, Sicily, France, Greece, and Croatia, they also grow in North America, Cuba, Haiti, and central Mexico.

Hyacinths are prized for their fragrant flowers in a raceme cluster rising at the top of leafless stems. 

Other common names for Hyacinths include:

  • Common Hyacinth
  • Dutch Hyacinth
  • Garden Hyacinth

There are only three Hyacinthus species, which are:

  • Hyacinthus litwinovii
  • Hyacinthus orientalis
  • Hyacinthus transcaspicus

Among the three, the most common and widely grown Hyacinthus species is Hyacinthus orientalis.

During the 16th century, Hyacinths gained popularity when it was introduced to Europe. This sparked Dutch bulb growers’ interest in the 18th century to breed more than 2,000 cultivars.

Today, people can choose from 60 commercial cultivars. 

Quick Tips On Hyacinth

  • Family:  Asparagaceae
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade
  • Temperature: 40° to 45° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Water moderately; at least 2” inches
  • Fertilizer: 10-10-10 soluble fertilizer or bonemeal
  • Propagation: Splitting off the offset bulbs or seeds
  • Common Problems: Bulb rot, frost injuries, rodents 

Hyacinth Care

Hyacinths are easy-to-grow and cared for as perennial flowering plants.

They’re excellent for filling the garden with bright colors and intoxicating fragrances when in bloom. 

Here are the steps to consider when growing Hyacinths.

How Big Does The Dutch Hyacinth Grow?

Hyacinths are easy-to-grow perennials that reach 6″ to 12″ inches tall and 3″ to 6″ inches wide.

The large Hyacinth bulbs typically begin flowering within the first year. In contrast, the smaller bulbs commonly take a year or two to establish.

When Does The Dutch Hyacinth Flower? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

Dutch Hyacinths are prized for their showy dense clusters of richly-colored flowers in raceme inflorescences.

Their bell-shaped flowers come in a wide array of hues, including white, cream, pink, wine red, rose, apricot, lavender, deep purple, and cobalt blue.

These raceme clusters of flowers are usually borne at the top of leafless stems, with long, narrow green leaves around the plant’s base.

You will witness Hyacinths in their stunning glory, blooming during early to mid-spring, with an intoxicating fragrance that hangs in the air.

This is why Hyacinths are called “nature’s perfume” due to their intense scent. 

What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?

Hyacinths thrive in full sun or partial shade. Aim for at least 6 hours or more of sunlight daily for full sun locations and 2 to 6 hours for partial shades. 

Although they grow in tropical regions, Hyacinths are not tropical plants. Instead, they do well in cold climates, with cold temperatures of about 40° to 45° degrees Fahrenheit.

Dutch Hyacinths also grow and survive in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 8 but may need winter protection in colder zones, depending on the hyacinth variety. 

How And When To Water And Fertilize The Dutch Hyacinth?

Generally speaking, Hyacinths need moderate watering, about 1/2 inches of water weekly—combined rainfall and irrigation and rainfall.

During their active growth, water as needed, with about 1″ inches, and continuing light water if there is no regular rain.

However, allow the ground to dry out between watering as Hyacinths will not survive in soggy soils or standing water.

Many fertilizers are available for feeding Hyacinths, including 10-10-10 soluble fertilizers or ordinary bone meal.

Feed the Dutch Hyacinths bulbs at planting and when the new growth appears in spring. 

What Is The Best Soil For Hyacinth Plants, And When Should You Transplant?

Hyacinths grow well in loose, well-drained soils organically rich and have medium moisture.

They are not particularly fussy but may prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil.

In addition, Dutch Hyacinth bulbs don’t tolerate soggy soils as these can encourage bulb rot.

After blooming, Hyacinth bulbs can be transplanted in the middle of the fall, early winter, or any time before the soil freezes.

Do Hyacinth Plants Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

Pruning hyacinths is unnecessary, but you may remove the blooms and flower stalks after they have finished flowering.

Make sure not to remove the foliage, as these are needed for hyacinth bulbs to store energy for next year’s blooms. 

You may also remove brown leaves to prevent fungal diseases. 

How To Propagate Dutch Hyacinth?

Hyacinths can be propagated through the following methods:

  • Seeds
  • Splitting off the offset bulbs

When propagating hyacinths from seeds, here’s what you need to do:

  • First, allow the hyacinth flowers to form seed pods. Once they ripen, they will turn from green to tan and form small black seeds. 
  • Once the pods are dry, split them open and catch the seeds by putting a white cloth or sheet under the plant.
  • You may also wrap a pantyhose around the hyacinth blooms. 
  • Next, separate the hyacinth seeds and douse them in warm water for one to two days.
  • Then, place the seeds between two moist paper towels and put them in a plastic bag. 
  • Make sure to put the plastic bag inside the refrigerator. This will allow the seeds to sprout.
  • Once the seeds have sprouted, slightly press them into a seed tray with a moist seed-starting mix.
  • Finally, place them in a greenhouse or cold frame to continue growing.

However, propagating hyacinths via seeds takes several years before it creates a bulb and produces a flowering plant.

If you plant to propagate a hyacinth through splitting offset bulbs, here are the things you need to do:

  • Make sure to split offset hyacinth bulbs from the parent plant in the fall.
  • Start digging a mature hyacinth plant with a trowel in late summer or fall. This is usually after the flowers have withered but before the foliage turns brown.
  • Wear gloves because hyacinth bulbs contain toxins that can irritate the skin.
  • Wash off the soil from the bulbs, and separate the clumps from the parent bulb and bulblets—into individual bulbs.
  • Immediately replant the hyacinth bulbs into well-draining soil.
  • Apply a bone meal or bulb fertilizer at planting time.

Hyacinth Flowers Pests And Diseases

Hyacinths generally are insect and problem-free plants. However, some diseases may occur, such as bulb rot.

Bulb rot typically happens when the hyacinth plant is overwatered or exposed to standing water.

Another pest that attacks hyacinths is rodents, as they will gnaw on the hyacinth bulbs.

Throw gravel or small rocks into the planting hole to protect the bulbs, or try rodent deterrents such as daffodils. 

Uses Of Common Hyacinth

Hyacinths are exemplary spring flowers, showing off their brightly-colored blooms while infusing the entire garden with incredible fragrance for two weeks or more. 

They are best planted in groups at the front of a perennial garden, rock garden, beds, or gardens for a spring burst of colors. 

Planting hyacinths near a doorway, walkway, patio, or entry will let you enjoy their wonderful scent every time you pass by. 

You can also plant them in pots and planters and bring them inside as a natural, indoor air freshener.

You can also make hyacinths as cut flowers, lasting long in a vase while providing beauty inside the house. 

For a knockout display of early spring colors, plant hyacinths with daffodils, tulips, and muscari. 

Sedums and thyme also make a great companion plant for Hyacinths, accentuating the low-growing groundcovers.