Hyacinths produce densely packed, colourful flowers that will fill your garden or containers with their heady perfume.
Hyacinths prefer well-drained, moderately fertile soil in full sun to partial shade. Prepare your soil to ensure good drainage, adding extra grit if your soil is prone to water logging and additional organic matter if it is poor. If you’re planting your hyacinths in pots, use John Innes No.2 mixed with a good quality compost in equal amounts and add additional grit to aid drainage; make sure to also line the pots with wool fleece wall lining to provide frost protection and help prevent wind drying.
Plant your hyacinth bulbs around 10 cm deep around 7 to 10 cm apart, allowing 30 to 40 per square meter. Feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed such as liquid seaweed; in a wet year it is also helpful to protect the emerging flowers from excessive water to avoid the flowers rotting before they open. Remove the flower stems as they start to fade but leave the leaves to die back naturally. You can leave the hyacinths in the ground but be aware that over the years they will start to reduce in size and flower power. Alternatively, to maintain their strength, once the foliage has started to turn yellow, lift and store your bulbs in a cool, dry place and plant again the following autumn.
Take care and use gloves when handling hyacinths as their skins can cause itching. It should go without saying that hyacinth bulbs should not be eaten as they can be poisonous both to humans and animals.
Always unpack bulbs on arrival and store in a cool place until ready to plant.
Potential problems, pests and diseases:
Basal rot can cause the foliage to die back early. This happens if the soil is too warm and moist. Destroy any infected bulbs as soon as you see the foliage dying.
Late frosts can cause spotted foliage. To avoid this provide an extra layer of mulch if late frost is forecast.
Bulb rot can be caused when young shoots appear during heavy rain. If the forecast is particularly inclement provide a layer of mulch to protect the crown of the plant.