Favored for their intense colors and heady fragrance, hyacinths are a staple of the spring garden along with daffodils and tulips. The plants' stately appearance makes them prized in formal bulb plantings. Flower colors include rich magenta and deep indigo as well as paler pinks, baby blues, yellows and white. The bulbs are also easy to force into bloom indoors.
Special features of hyacinths
Keep hyacinths watered during dry spells in the fall. After plants are finished flowering in spring, cut back flower stalks but allow the leaves to die back naturally, hiding the unsightly foliage with annual or perennial plantings. An annual application of compost should provide adequate nutrients. Flower size may decline in subsequent years, so some gardeners treat hyacinths as annuals and plant fresh bulbs each fall.
Choosing a site to grow hyacinths
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.
Plant hyacinth bulbs in fall, 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F. This is usually during September and October in the North, and October and November in the South. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep. Set the bulb in the hole, pointy end up, then cover with soil and press firmly. Space bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart. Water thoroughly after planting.