It’s the Year of the Hyacinth


One of the loveliest scents of spring comes from hyacinths in bloom.

Believe it or not, this bulb is in the same plant family as asparagus! Hyacinths were introduced during the 16th century. During the 18th century, hyacinths were the most popular spring bulbs in the world. Today’s hyacinths are some of the easiest to grow bulbs. The National Garden Bureau has announced 2021 as the Year of the Hyacinth.

Cultural requirements

These bulbs need a cooling period to bloom. Therefore, they need to be planted in the fall. Resist the urge to plant these too early; wait until the cooler weather arrives. As a guide, consider planting these bulbs six to eight weeks before the first hard frost.

A full sun location is the best, though hyacinths will grow in light shade. Choose a spot that has well drained soil that never gets soggy. Plant the widest side of the bulb face down, about four to six inches deep. Space them about three to four inches apart. Cover with soil and water well.

The easiest way to fertilize hyacinths is to toss some bulb food into the hole at planting time. You can also add fertilizer in the spring once the new growth first appears.

Are hyacinths toxic?

Hyacinth’s bulbs contain oxalic acid which can cause a skin irritation in some people. Wear gloves when handling these bulbs. Oxalic acid is toxic when eaten. Keep bulbs away from children and pets. The oxalic acid is especially toxic to dogs and cats.

Common problems

The biggest problem with hyacinths comes from rodents; rodents will munch on the bulbs. You can somewhat protect them by throwing a handful of gravel into the planting hole, or you can try to interplant the hyacinths with daffodils which rodents will avoid.

You can also consider planting the bulbs deeper since rodents tend to disturb about the top six inches of soil.

In addition to being an easy bulb to add to the garden, hyacinths are one of the easiest bulbs to force to bloom indoors. Forcing is a technique to trick bulbs to bloom out of season indoors by providing them with favorable conditions for growing.

The bulbs need about eight weeks of chilling at around 45 degrees to achieve flowering. You can also chill unpotted bulbs and then allow the bulbs to root in a tray of pebbles or directly into a special vase called a hyacinth vase.

If the bulb is sufficiently chilled, flowering will begin in about five weeks from moving into room temperature conditions.

We have an excellent fact sheet with more specific details on how to force bulbs; visit our website at

With colors ranging from blue to pink, purple and white, there’s a hyacinth for any color garden. Visit the National Garden Bureau’s website at suggestions on which specific varieties to grow. In addition, learn more about bulbs in general by visiting our CCE website,

Celebrate 2021 as the Year of the Hyacinth and plant some this fall!

Are you interested in learning more about gardening, while enjoying shared tips, tricks, and camaraderie with other gardeners? Consider participating in the master gardener volunteer training in 2022! Come and visit the Extension Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens an educational component of the Oneida County Master Gardener Volunteer. For more information call us or visit, phone 315-736-3394, Ext 100. Be sure to like us on Facebook ( and check out our YouTube channel by hitting the icon at the bottom of our web page.


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