This page was developed to share my gardening and landscaping experience with
others. The site contains only general information on different plants. I do not
guarantee all information to be accurate. I do not accept any responsibility for
anyone's growing success. Please consult with your plant or seed supplier for detailed
Dutch Hyacinth General Information:
Hyacinths are a common spring bulb in many Ohio gardens. The Dutch Hyacinths grow
from a large bulb. The bulbs can be close to 2 inches in diameter. Unless stated
otherwise, I am referring to the Dutch Hyacinth on this page. They are considered
hardy in zones 3 to 8. Hyacinths are available in most colors. They grow to a height of
about 8 to 10 inches. Hyacinths are planted in the fall and flower early spring. They
look good when planted in small groups. Hyacinths are slow to propagate and tend to
have the largest flowers the first year. Therefore, you should not over-space the bulbs,
thinking they will "fill-in" anytime soon. Hyacinths and other spring bulbs have a short
growing season. I personally like to plant spring bulbs around evergreens and other
perennials. This way I am not left with an empty patch come summer time. Some
people will plant spring bulbs in the lawn, but they should not be cut down until the
leaves turn brown naturally.
Growth and Propagation of Dutch Hyacinths:
Hyacinths grow from bulbs which are normally imported from Holland. They are planted
in the fall and bloom early spring. Hyacinths need a winter cool down period which is
why they are planted in the fall. They should be planted in full sun to partial shade.
The green leaves must be allowed to die back naturally after the plants are done
flowering to produce energy for the next years flowers.
Hyacinths will multiply as long as they are alive and healthy. The process is quite slow
and you probably will not see additional flowers for 4 to 5 years. Large bulbs that are
left in the ground will produce offsets in about a year. The offsets generally form at the
base of the bulb, separate from the mother bulb, and then get larger each year. The
offsets will take 3 or 4 years before they are large enough to produce a flower. Every
3 to 5 years the bulbs should be divided or they will crowd themselves. Division should
be done in the summer after the plants go dormant. The bulbs should be dug up,
separated, and replanted. This is a good time to amend the ground, since the soil is
already loosened up. Keep in mind that only the largest bulbs will produce a flower the
following spring. They usually recommend spacing the bulbs about 4 to 6 inches.
Offsets will produce a flower that is the same as the parent. Commercial growers will
use bulb cutting techniques to obtain the maximum number of offsets from the mother
There are several factors that may kill off a hyacinth patch. The bulbs need well
drained soil. Wet soil will rot the bulbs. If you have wet summers you may wish to raise
the bulbs after they go dormant and replant them in the fall. Squirrels and chipmunks
may dig up the bulbs. Once again, some people will raise the bulbs after they go
dormant and replant them in the fall. This gives the critters less time to attack, but also
loosens up the soil which makes it easier for them to get the bulbs. Some people will
coat the bulbs with a fungicide or animal repellent with mixed results. Other techniques
include putting crushed sea shells or wire mesh over the bulbs to make it harder to dig.
I plant my bulbs at the maximum depth of about 6 inches to the bottom of the hole. I
use a bulb planter to loosen up as little soil as possible. The soil must be prepared in
advance. I then let the neighborhood cats take care of the rest. The leaves must also
receive enough sun or the bulbs will die out. The leaves must be allowed to die back
naturally and the bulbs planted in a sunny location. Bulb fertilizer and general weeding
also makes a difference. Dead heading the flowers after they start to die will put less
energy into seed development, and more energy into the next years flower
development. Taking some cut flowers indoors will deliver the same results as dead
heading. Deer tend to avoid the Hyacinth plants.
It is recommended that you wear gloves and wash your hands well when handling
Hyacinth, and most other types of bulbs. This will help to prevent irritation or allergic
reactions to plants which are considered somewhat poisonous.
Another type of spring bulb are the Grape Hyacinth. The Grape Hyacinth flowers are
much smaller than the Dutch Hyacinth flowers. They are usually shades of blue. They
look good in small drifts. The Grape Hyacinth grow from small bulbs which propagate
fairly quick. They are hardy in zones 3 to 9. Grape Hyacinths flower mid spring and
grow 6 to 7 inches tall.
Above: Grape Hyacinths.
Photo taken April 2008