Hyacinth Planting Guide

If you were going to experience spring with just one sense - your sense of smell - these are the flowers you’d want most. Hyacinths deliver a rich, sweet fragrance that’s impossible to miss even on raw spring days when the air seems unable to hold any scents other than "cold" and "wet".

Choosing a Growing Site

Choosing a site in full to 3/4 day sun for straight, well-formed hyacinth flower stems. As with most bulbs, a site with good drainage helps prevent bulb rot.

Soil Prep

Look for a site with soil that drains well. Turn in some compost before starting to plant or as you tuck in individual bulbs to provide nutrients. Compost is also great for helping to lighten soil and avoid compaction.

When to Plant

Plant in the fall, from September through November, when the soil has cooled in your area but hasn’t started to freeze. These bulbs sprout roots and develop a network in the cool fall soil; they need a few weeks to do this before the ground freezes down several inches. These bulbs should not be held over for planting in the spring. It's important for bulbs to have time to root in if they are to be able to absorb the required moisture and nutrients needed to thrive.

How to Plant Hyacinth Bulbs

Loosen the soil to 10” deep and dig planting holes 6-7” deep. Add a handful or two of compost to the soil you removed. Examine your bulb and find the pointy end. That’s the top where the new sprout will appear. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointy end facing upwards. Fill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. Plant bulbs 5-6” apart.

During the Growing Season

Hyacinth need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two during the spring when they are actively growing.

At Season’s End

When your hyacinths have finished flowering, feel free to cut off the flower stalks but leave the foliage in place until it yellows. While still green, it is using the sunlight to create food through photosynthesis and nourishing the bulbs for next spring flowering. When the leaves are yellow and twist off easily, feel free to remove them.

Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs

Planning to force your bulbs or plant pre-chilled bulbs in winter? Read this! Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs

Insider Tips

  1. Hyacinths are good choices for including in large containers like half barrels and big ceramic pots. Feel free to mix with other bulbs. Consider layering, with the hyacinths planted deep and smaller bulbs, like crocuses, scilla, grape hyacinths and/or snowdrops planted in a layer above.
  2. Some people react to hyacinth bulbs with tingling or itchiness. If you have sensitive skin wear gloves while planting.
  3. Hyacinths are grown for their fragrance and have been used in by perfume makers for centuries. Plant some and you’ll certainly understand why.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full to 3/4 day sun

Soil: Average, well drained

Depth: Cover bulb with 6-7" of soil

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Beds, borders and large containers

Tip: Hyacinths are a good choice if squirrels are a problem in your area

GUIDE: Hyacinth Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: